SAN FRANCISCO — Cloudflare, a leading tech security company that has reversed course amid mounting social pressure, announced on Saturday that Kiwi, best known as a place where stalkers organize hacks, online campaigns and real-world harassment Announced that they are no longer protecting the Farms website.

Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, who published a lengthy blog post last week justifying the company’s services protecting websites such as Kiwi Farms, told The Washington Post that he changed his mind. It said it was not because of pressure, but because of the credible surge of violent threats stemming from the site. .

“The more Kiwi Farms felt threatened, the more threatening they responded,” Prince said. I don’t think the pace at which we can respond to those threats is fast enough to keep up.”

Prince said contributors to the forum posted the home addresses of people they considered enemies and called for them to be shot.

After Cloudflare’s move, visitors to Kiwi Farms were greeted with the following message:

Kiwi Farm founder Josh Moon said in a Telegram post that Cloudflare made the decision “without any discussion” and said he had not been contacted by law enforcement about threats on the site. rice field. “It’s early in the morning here,” the post said. “My thoughts are better organized in the morning.”

Kiwi Farms was founded in 2013 and has quickly grown into a popular internet forum for online harassment campaigns. At least three of his suicides have been linked to harassment attributed to the kiwi farm community, with many on the forums believing the goal was to drive the target to suicide. Members of the LGBTQ community and women are frequently targeted.

Cloudflare faced widespread backlash last week as a campaign to retire the service gained momentum and spread to pressure customers to retire Cloudflare if it remained strong. The company says it offers several almost free services that protect nearly one-fifth of all internet traffic.

On August 24, Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green (R-Ga.) called for the kiwi farm to be taken down after being slammed by someone who claimed to be affiliated with the site. “Aren’t you worried that such a website exists?” Green said Interview with Newsmax“That website should be taken down. There should be no business or service that can target its adversaries.”

It was around that time that I stopped selling Kiwi Farms a $20/month service to customize the error message that would be displayed to web users if the page did not load. On Saturday, it withdrew its remaining free service, which fends off denial-of-service attacks and speeds up content delivery by making copies of sites in many places.

Trans-Canadian Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, known online as Keffals, launched the #DropKiwiFarms campaign after being targeted by Kiwi Farms posters for over six months.

Forum users repeatedly exposed Sorrenti and her family, posting addresses and more. Last month, they had called in a bogus crime report and lured police to her home for a “swatting” attack. Sorrenti fled to Northern Ireland late last month and within 48 hours a forum user had located her and she began receiving threats.

She spoke to the Post on Saturday, minutes after police arrived at her residence after another bashing attempt.

“There are countless people suffering because of this website,” Sorrenti said. “Kiwi Farms is not a free speech issue, it is a hate speech issue. The majority of content on this site is threads used for targeted harassment of political targets.”

Sorrenti’s campaign against Cloudflare has gone viral over the past few days, joining calls from organizations and influencers to ban Kiwi Farms from Cloudflare’s services. The Anti-Defamation League called Kiwi Farms “an extremist-friendly forum that has been the breeding ground for countless hate campaigns.”

In an interview, Prince said that despite its content, it was offensive to remove Kiwi Farm, and that he only wanted it removed in response to a court order.

But he said it was an easier decision than the previous one because the neo-Nazi sites Daily Stormer and 8chan’s website were not hotbeds of any particular violent conspiracy.

In Wednesday’s post, Prince and another executive believe they provide basic security and caching services as infrastructure, such as internet connectivity, should not be held responsible for content without judicial proceedings. I wrote. They said it should increase responsibility and discretion as opposed to website hosting.

Prince said Saturday he stands by that reason, writing in a new post that quitting Kiwi Farms was a “dangerous” decision. In an interview, he added that the forum’s users are likely to escalate further, with the help of Cloudflare’s competitors, the forum will likely come back online.

“This could push the issue forward in a big way, or worse, it could even escalate as the kiwi farm poster feels attacked,” Prince told the Post.

Some technical experts supported Cloudflare’s resistance to action. Daphne Keller, director of the platform regulation program at Stanford University’s Cyber ​​Policy Center, recently cited India’s incumbent government criticizing Facebook for content of political opponents.

“The question is which part of the technical ‘stack’ of the Internet should be neutral, which part should govern content, and should there be some intermediate set of duties that should be applied to the middle layers? about it. ‘” Keller told the Post.

But the majority of techies disagreed with the previous stance. On Friday, Stanford University’s Alex Stamos wrote on Twitter that his position to continue serving Kiwi Farms was “unsustainable.”

“Soon doctors, activists, or transgender people will be exposed and killed, or gunmen will be inspired. The corporate base will disappear,” Stamos wrote.

In an interview, Prince said he couldn’t provide the number of new threats he saw at Kiwi Farms, but that they escalated rapidly along with criticism of the forums. The company provided details to his FBI and law enforcement agencies in the UK and Australia, but no agency, even unofficially, was asked to remove Kiwi Farms, he said.

Broader concerns about violent online organizing have accelerated after the Jan. 6, 2021 attacks on the US Capitol. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have warned of possible violence before, during and after the November election, with former President Donald Trump likening the FBI and other agencies to organized crime.

Online agitation around gender issues plays into recent threats to children’s hospitals.

Kiwi Farm founder Moon is the former administrator of 8chan, a forum popularized by supporters of the QAnon extremist ideology. After hosting a video of his 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting that killed 51 people, New Zealand internet service his provider Kiwi after President Moon refused a police request for posts related to the shooting. Blocked Farms.

Last July, Kiwi Farms was kicked out of its domain registrar, DreamHost, following the suicide of a software developer named Near, a longtime target of the site’s user base.

“Like many transgender people targeted by this site, I was targeted by Kiwifarms,” transgender activist and content creator Erin Reid said Saturday. Showed up at my local courthouse to get the files.They posted Google images of my house.They try to scare trans people into silence.”

But trans activist Chelsea Manning offered a more nuanced opinion. “I don’t think the long-term solution to this kind of dodgy remark is to ask your hosting provider to remove these things,” she told the Post.

Lorenz reported from Los Angeles.


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