Sep 3, 2022 - Technology

Cloudflare drops service for harassment site Kiwi Farms

Photo of Cloudflare company logo on a window at its headquarters

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Web infrastructure and security services provider Cloudflare announced Saturday it was immediately blocking the Kiwi Farms site known for organizing the harassment and targeting of transgender people.

Driving the news: In the face of an activist campaign pressing the company to stop providing services to Kiwi Farms, Cloudflare had seemed to be digging in its heels, per an Aug, 31 blog posting by CEO Matthew Prince.

Yes, but: "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," Prince wrote in a new post Saturday.

Why it matters: Cloudflare has long held that its role as a provider of back-end website services means that it should not play a role in assessing or censoring the content its customers distribute.

Catch up quick: Kiwi Farms is a 10-year-old site that emerged from 8chan and has been dedicated to organizing campaigns aimed at trans, autistic and other individuals. In several cases, targets of such campaigns have committed suicide.

  • Cloudflare's services are widely used by website publishers to distribute content efficiently and to protect their sites from denial-of-service attacks.

What they're saying:

  • Prince: "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. ... 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.... In this case the imminent and emergency threat to human life which continues to escalate causes us to take this action."
  • Protest organizer Claire "Keffals" Sorrenti, a trans Twitch streamer and target of a Kiwi Farms harassment campaign, in a statement on Twitter: "This is a historical moment where thousands of people have stood up and taken a stance against online harassment and hate. We're happy with the decision that Cloudflare came to, and this deals a big blow to Kiwi Farms and their community, one they may never recover from."
  • Kiwi Farms operator Josh Moon, in a statement posted on Telegram: Cloudflare's decision to block the site was done without any discussion. The message I've received is a vague suspension notice. ... If there is any threat to life on the site, I have received no communication from any law enforcement."
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