Internet security and hosting 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, even as some of its members already anticipated that Cloudflare might take action and have begun exploring other options.
While trying to visit the Kiwi Farms website on Saturday evening, an error message popped up that read: “Due to an emergency and imminent threat to human life, access to the content on this site is blocked via the ‘Cloudflare infrastructure’.
The move comes after Cloudflare became the subject of a lobbying campaign from a trans Twitch streamer who was being abused by Kiwi Farms users.
The streamer, Clara Sorrenti, known to fans as Keffals, responded in a tweet on Saturday. “Cloudflare has abandoned Kiwi Farms. Our campaign will release a statement soon,” Sorrenti said.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince announced the move in a blog post and did not mention Sorrenti by name, but said the abuses by Kiwi Farms had 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,” said Cloudflare’s statement.
“However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms website and specific and targeted threats have escalated over the past 48 hours to the point that we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life different from what we have seen previously from Kiwifarms or any other customer before.”
On Fridays, This was reported by NBC News that Sorrenti is one of Kiwi Farms’ rising targets and that his harassment techniques could become a playbook against political enemies as the 2024 US presidential election approaches.
Kiwi Farms owner Josh Moon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News Saturday. A post on Kiwi Farms’ Telegram account says Cloudflare’s decision was “made without any discussion.”
“The message I received is a vague suspension notice. Matthew Prince’s message is not clear,” the post states. “If there is any life threat on the site, I have not received any communication from any law enforcement agency.”
Cloudflare is an Internet services company that provides websites with a variety of crucial assets, most notably its content delivery network and mitigation of distributed denial-of-service campaigns, or DDoS, a common cyberattack that floods websites with fake internet traffic and makes them unusable.
Cloudflare’s central role as a major provider of these services has also made the company a flashpoint for the extremists’ Internet operations.
The company has generally been reluctant to take action against certain websites or internet operations, citing concerns that it holds immense power in terms of who is able to exist on the web, although it used to be.
In 2017, Cloudflare said he would no longer provide services to the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi message board.
Prince also warned about Cloudflare’s role in taking websites offline.
“Reasonable people can and do believe all of these things. But having the content control mechanism as vigilante hackers launching DDoS attacks subverts any rational concept of justice,” Prince wrote in a blog post, citing the inevitability of cyberattacks that would take the Daily Stormer offline.
Kiwi Farms users had been anticipating Cloudflare’s ban for weeks and created contingency plans if the site went down, including alternate internet domains, along with accounts and communities on Telegram.
While Kiwi Farms’ decades-old archive of personal information on political enemies will be much more difficult to access and add to, the site’s user base appears committed to continuing to track down trans people online, according to Telegram posts about a potential site closure. .
“They’re thinking about what comes next,” said Fredrick Brennan, who worked with Moon when they were both admins of the fringe message board 8chan. “I’m watching them closely and they’re already thinking about how to move everything to Telegram.”
Brennan has since sued 8chan, which he created, and successfully advocated for the page to be removed from Cloudflare in 2019.