Internet security firm Cloudflare has officially dropped far-right online forum Kiwi Farms as a client. A growing campaign to de-platform the website known as a cesspool of hate –a hotbed for organizing hacks, stalking, doxing, and targeted harassment — shed light on the dangerous forum and its cyber protector, but Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince claims that he isn’t bowing to pressure from Kiwi’s detractors, but made the decision to cut ties to Kiwi Farms for safety reasons.
In a lengthy online statement on Saturday, Prince said:
“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. 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 we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer before.”
We just blocked Kiwifarms. The threats on the site escalated enough in the last 48 hours that, in spite of proactively working with law enforcement, it became enough of an imminent emergency we could no longer wait for them to act. Details of our decision: https://t.co/xNnSXn65R6
— Matthew Prince 🌥 (@eastdakota) September 3, 2022
“Visitors to any of the Kiwifarms sites that use any of Cloudflare’s services will see a Cloudflare block page and a link to this post,” Prince wrote on the company’s blog.
This decision will be welcome news for those subjected to harassment and threats by Kiwi Farms users, including transgender Canadian Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who has had her name, address and that of her family posted online. According to The Washington Post, Sorrenti began the #DropKiwiFarms campaign after nearly six months of abuse.
“Forum users had repeatedly doxed Sorrenti and her family, posting addresses and more, and last month they called in false crime reports to draw police to her home in so-called “swatting” attacks. Sorrenti fled to Northern Ireland late last month, and within 48 hours users of the forum had pinpointed her location and she began receiving threats,” The Washington Post reported.
It was only a few days ago, that Prince defended Kiwi Farms and reiterated Cloudflare’s intention of continuing to provide security for the fascist-friendly site. According to CBS News:
“Terminating security services for content that our team personally feels is disgusting and immoral would be the popular choice,” said Cloudflare, in a blog post authored by CEO Matthew Prince and global public policy chief Alissa Starzak that does not mention Kiwi Farms by name. “But, in the long term, such choices make it more difficult to protect content that supports oppressed and marginalized voices against attacks.”
The company tweeted then tweeted their abuse policy:
Cloudflare launched nearly twelve years ago. Over that time, our set of services has become much more complicated. With that complexity we have developed policies around how we handle abuse of different features Cloudflare provides https://t.co/dxJw0yg6MA
— Cloudflare (@Cloudflare) August 31, 2022
Though they have since reversed course, Prince initially expressed hesitation, defending the forum’s right to be all things awful.
“Kiwi Farms has frequently been host to revolting content. Revolting content alone does not create an emergency situation that necessitates the action we are taking today,” Prince said.
Kiwi Farms isn’t the first alt-right website known for violent rhetoric, stalking, and harassment. Cloudflare recently cut ties with 8chan and The Daily Stormer.
While this decision won’t likely keep Kiwi Farms down for long – 8chan and The Daily Stormer found new homes – it’s a step in the right direction. If we expect to combat rising racial, xenophobic, and anti-LGBTQ violence, a zero-tolerance approach is the only way.
Read Cloudflare’s statement here.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick