SAN FRANCISCO – In a tweet Saturday afternoon, Matthew Prince, the CEO and co-founder of internet content delivery and security services company Cloudflare announced that his firm had blocked Kiwifarms.
Kiwifarms is an American Internet forum dedicated to the inflammatory and often homophobic, racist, or transphobic discussion of online figures and communities it deems “Lolcows,” a portmanteau of the acronym LOL and cow, a derogatory slang term used to describe an individual who is deemed highly exploitable.
The decision to block Kiwifarms stemmed from an ongoing vicious doxxing and hate campaign directed at transgender people, in particular an online gamer and trans creator Clara Sorrenti, best known on Twitch, YouTube and Twitter as Keffals. The abuse and threats forced Sorrenti to flee her native Ontario, Canada and head to Europe.
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
Sorrenti calls KiwiFarms a “transphobic hate forum” that she says has doxxed trans and nonbinary people, stalked them and driven some to suicide. Sorrenti herself has been targeted, and swatted—in which a caller makes a false report of extreme violence happening at someone’s address, a harassment tactic that has also been used against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Sorrenti flagged tweets to be masked for “violence” and “sensitive content.”
One messenger deadnames her, and it only gets worse from there, promising to “beat to death” Sorrenti, “record your dying screams and moans and masturbate to them.”
In his post, Prince noted: “Kiwifarms has frequently been host to revolting content. Revolting content alone does not create an emergency situation that necessitates the action we are taking today. Beginning approximately two weeks ago, a pressure campaign started with the goal to deplatform Kiwifarms. That pressure campaign targeted Cloudflare as well as other providers utilized by the site.”
The campaign Prince referenced was being led by Sorrenti who was organizing a protest for October 18 in San Francisco, where the firm is holding a conference that will be attended by company executives. She’s using a subreddit to organize and the hashtag #DropKiwifarms to spread her message and fight back against hate.
— keffals #DropKiwifarms (@keffals) August 31, 2022
Cloudflare’s Prince argued in his post that the #dropKiwifarms campaign did not play a prominent role in the decision writing:
“Cloudflare provides security services to Kiwifarms, protecting them from DDoS and other cyberattacks. We have never been their hosting provider. As we outlined last Wednesday, we do not believe that terminating security services is appropriate, even to revolting content. In a law-respecting world, the answer to even illegal content is not to use other illegal means like DDoS attacks to silence it.
“We are also not taking this action directly because of the pressure campaign. While we have empathy for its organizers, we are committed as a security provider to protecting our customers even when they run deeply afoul of popular opinion or even our own morals. The policy we articulated last Wednesday remains our policy. We continue to believe that the best way to relegate cyberattacks to the dustbin of history is to give everyone the tools to prevent them.
“However, as the pressure campaign escalated, so did the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site. Feeling attacked, users of the site became even more aggressive. Over the last two weeks, we have proactively reached out to law enforcement in multiple jurisdictions highlighting what we believe are potential criminal acts and imminent threats to human life that were posted to the site.“
Prince ended cautioning that Cloudflare’s decision to drop Kiwifarms has the potential to lead to worse scenarios.
“Finally, we are aware and concerned that our action may only fan the flames of this emergency. Kiwifarms itself will most likely find other infrastructure that allows them to come back online, as the Daily Stormer and 8chan did themselves after we terminated them. And, even if they don’t, the individuals that used the site to increasingly terrorize will feel even more isolated and attacked and may lash out further. There is real risk that by taking this action today we may have further heightened the emergency.”
The founder of Kiwifarms said that the decision was made by Cloudflare without any discussion with him, according to a Telegram post from Moon, shared by Buzzfeed reporter Ellie Hall on Twitter.
Kiwi Farms owner Josh “Null” Moon has posted a statement on Telegram about Cloudflare’s decision to block the site: pic.twitter.com/4ApvO0JsEB
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) September 3, 2022
The conflict and controversy over Kiwifarms was part of a larger online war being launched by far-right extremists and hate groups.
This week, The Trevor Project has been besieged by callers flooding their 24/7 hotline. But the calls are not from LGBTQ+ youth in crisis, but allegedly users of 4chan, as the Los Angeles Blade has reported, in a campaign to disrupt their lifesaving work.
Also this week, LibsofTikTok, aka Chaya Raichik, emerged from a 7-day Twitter suspension, vowing to redouble her attacks on hospitals providing gender-affirming care. Raichik calls that “mutilating the body.” Among her targets: Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. and Boston Children’s Hospital, which was the subject of a bomb threat Tuesday night.
Additional reporting by Dawn Ennis