Citing imminent danger Cloudflare drops hate site Kiwi Farms
Citing an “immediate threat to human life,” Cloudflare has dropped the notorious stalking and harassment site Kiwi Farms from its internet security services following an online campaign started by transgender Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti to pressure it to do so.
“This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous one that we are not comfortable with,” CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post Saturday. “However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site and specific, targeted threats have escalated over the last 48 hours to the point that we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life unlike what we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer before.”
For years, members of the site have congregated on what they call a “lighthearted discussion forum” to organize vicious harassment campaigns against transgender people, feminists and others they deem mockable. They gang up on victims and pool their personal details such as addresses and phone numbers in a practice called “doxxing,” spreading vile rumors and targeting workplaces, friends, families and homes. Another favorite tactic has been “swatting” — making false emergency calls to provoke an armed police response at a target’s home. Some people subjected to the group’s abuse have died by suicide.
Sorrenti, who goes by Keffals online, has been leading a campaign to pressure Cloudflare to drop Kiwi Farms. In August, she fled her home in Canada for Europe after she was doxxed and swatted. Her online stalkers, however, found her in Belfast, Ireland, as well and continued to intensify their harassment campaign against her just as her campaign against Kiwi Farms and its enablers was gaining momentum.
“When a multi-billion dollar corporation like Cloudflare has to drop Kiwi Farms because of an ‘imminent and emergency threat to human life’ it is no longer a matter of free speech. Removing Kiwi Farms from the internet is a matter of public safety for every single person online,” she tweeted on Saturday.
On Sunday, Kiwi Farms was inaccessible. But a version of the site with a .ru domain name was intermittently up and running, though it was not clear whether it would remain up.
“There has never been a violent incident in our history, which cannot be said for many other sites still on Cloudflare. This narrative feels like a lie spun up to save face,” Moon, who posts on Kiwi Farms under the pseudonym “Null,” posted Saturday in response to Cloudflare’s cutoff. Reached earlier by The Associated Press to comment on the campaign against his site, Moon replied only “the press are scum.”
KiwiFarms.ru is registered to and protected by the Russian company DDoS-Guard, whose customers have in the past included Russian government websites including the Defense Ministry and cybercriminal forums where stolen credit cards are bought and sold.
Last year, DDoS-Guard protected the pro-Trump social media website Parler.com for a time after Amazon withdrew hosting services. KiwiFarms.ru was registered on July 12, suggesting the site’s creator and administrator, Joshua Conner Moon, was aware Cloudflare could drop his site and thus created a backup plan.
DDoS-Guard did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Sunday. Its internet connection is provided by VegasNAP, a Las Vegas-based company that said in response to queries last week that it does not disclose information about its clients. Contacted again Sunday, the company did not immediately respond.