Internet service company Cloudflare blocks Kiwi Farms citing ‘targeted threats’
Hosting and internet security service provider Cloudflare said on Saturday it would block Kiwi Farms, a website associated with harassment campaigns against transgender people.
The announcement casts doubt on the future of the fringe internet forum, although some of its members have already anticipated that Cloudflare might act and have begun to explore other options.
While attempting to visit the Kiwi Farms website on Saturday evening, an error message appeared: “Due to an urgent and imminent threat to human life, access to the content of this site is blocked via Cloudflare infrastructure”.
The move comes after Cloudflare faced a pressure campaign from a trans Twitch streamer who was the target of abuse from Kiwi Farms users.
Streamer, Clara Sorrenti, known to fans as Keffals, responded in a tweet on Saturday. “Cloudflare has abandoned Kiwi Farms. Our campaign will be releasing a statement soon,” she said.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince announced the move in a blog post and did not mention Sorrenti by name, but said Kiwi Farms abuses escalated in response to his campaign.
“This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous decision that we are not comfortable with,” Cloudflare’s statement said.
“However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site and the specific and targeted threats have escalated over the past 48 hours to the point where we believe there is an unprecedented urgency and immediate threat to human life contrary to what which we have seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer before. .”
On Friday, NBC News reported that Sorrenti was one of Kiwi Farms’ growing targets and that their harassment techniques could become a playbook against political enemies in the run-up to the 2024 US presidential election.
Kiwi Farms owner Josh Moon did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday from NBC News. A message on the Kiwi Farms Telegram account said Cloudflare’s decision was “made without any discussion”.
“The message I received is a vague notice of suspension. Matthew Prince’s message is unclear,” the message read. “If there is a threat to life at the site, I have received no communication from any law enforcement.”
Cloudflare is an internet services company that provides websites with a variety of crucial resources, including its Content Delivery Network and mitigating Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, campaigns, a common cyberattack that floods websites with fake Internet traffic and renders them unusable.
Cloudflare’s pivotal role as one of the leading providers of these services has also made the company a flashpoint around the internet operations of extremists.
The company has generally been reluctant to take action against particular websites or internet operations, citing concerns that it wields immense power in terms of who can exist on the web, despite having done so in the past.
In 2017, Cloudflare said it would no longer provide services to the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi message board.
Prince also warned of Cloudflare’s role in taking websites offline.
“Reasonable people can and do believe all of these things. But having the content control mechanism be vigilant hackers launching DDoS attacks subverts any rational concept of justice,” Prince wrote in a blog post, citing the inevitability of cyberattacks that would knock the Daily Stormer offline. .
Kiwi Farms users had been anticipating the Cloudflare ban for weeks and had created contingency plans in case the site went down, including alternate internet domains, and accounts and communities on Telegram.
While Kiwi Farms’ decade-old archive of personal information about political enemies will be considerably harder to access and add to, the site’s user base seems determined to continue tracking trans people in line, according to posts on Telegram about a potential site shutdown. .
“They’re thinking about what’s next,” said Fredrick Brennan, who worked with Moon when they were both administrators of fringe message board 8chan. “I’m watching them closely, and they’re already thinking about how to move everything to Telegram.”
Brennan has since spoken out against 8chan, which he created, and successfully advocated for the page to be removed from Cloudflare in 2019.