Why did Cloudflare block the Kiwi Farms website?

5 Sep 2022

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Citing an ‘immediate threat to human life’, Cloudflare has decided to block security services to online forum Kiwi Farms.

Internet services company Cloudflare has blocked Kiwi Farms, an 8chan-style internet forum that is infamous for harassment and targeted threats towards various social groups, including the transgender community.

Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a blogpost Saturday (3 September) that the decision is the result of escalation last week, with targeted threats emerging from Kiwi Farms posing “an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life unlike we have previously seen”.

“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,” he wrote.

Cloudflare, which provides security services to Kiwi Farms, said earlier in the week that it did not believe that terminating these services is appropriate – “even to revolting content”.

But Prince wrote in a tweet on Saturday that the threats had escalated enough in the previous 48 hours that the company could no longer wait for law enforcement to intervene.

“Visitors to any of the Kiwi Farms sites that use any of Cloudflare’s services will see a Cloudflare block page and a link to this post,” Prince wrote in its Saturday blogpost.

“Kiwi Farms may move their sites to other providers and, in doing so, come back online, but we have taken steps to block their content from being accessed through our infrastructure.”

Cloudflare’s decision comes following a pressure campaign that began more than two weeks ago to ‘deplatform’ Kiwi Farms after its members engaged in widespread abuse and targeted attacks towards specific individuals.

One of them, Clara Sorrenti, is a trans Twitch streamer who started the campaign to bring down the website. Unlike 8chan, which it emerged from, activity on Kiwi Farms is generally more organised in that specific targets are chosen and harassed using a variety of techniques.

Harassment methods include doxxing, which involves revealing a target’s sensitive personal information, and swatting, which involves sending false tips to the police about violent crime in a target’s house in order to get them in trouble. Both tactics were used against Sorrenti.

Known by her online name Keffals, Sorrenti issued a statement on Twitter to celebrate Cloudflare’s decision to block services to Kiwi Farms, saying that while “the battle is won, the war is not over”.

“Kiwi Farms has been around for over a decade, and at no point in the site’s history have they come under this much fire. This is a historical moment where thousands of people have stood up and taken a stance against online harassment and hate,” she wrote.

“While we should celebrate today, this may not be the end of their community.”

Sorrenti identified Las Vegas-based internet service provider FiberHub as the company that hosts and services Kiwi Farms servers.

“If Kiwi Farms ever becomes active again, we must apply the same pressure to FiberHub that we did to Cloudflare, otherwise the website will return online and be operational in the foreseeable future.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic