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Cloudflare Blocks Site Linked to Hate After Weeks of Pressure

·3 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Cloudflare Inc. blocked Kiwi Farms on Saturday, days after hinting it will continue working with the controversial discussion forum despite weeks of pressure.

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The company has blocked Kiwi Farms content from being accessed through its infrastructure after an escalation in rhetoric and “specific, targeted threats” over the past 48 hours, Chief Executive Officer Matthew Prince said in a blog post.

“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,” Prince said. While we believe “it would have been appropriate as an infrastructure provider for us to wait for legal process, in this case the imminent and emergency threat to human life which continues to escalate causes us to take this action.”

Previously, Cloudflare offered security services to Kiwi Farms. Visitors to Kiwi Farms sites that use any of its services will now see a Cloudflare block page and a link to Prince’s post.

Cloudflare came under pressure to drop Kiwi Farms as a customer after the online forum known for harassment and hate campaigns recently forced a well-known transgender Twitch streamer into hiding.

Kiwi Farms founder Joshua Moon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. He told Bloomberg News earlier this week that “the forum does not condone behavior besides on-site discussion.”

Users of the site have become even more aggressive following the internet campaign to pressure service providers to block it, Prince said, adding that over the past two weeks, Cloudflare contacted law enforcement in several jurisdictions over “potential criminal acts and imminent threats to human life that were posted to the site.”

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Over the last decade, Kiwi Farms has been tied to multiple doxxing attacks, in which a person’s private, personal information is published online, or “swatting,” where anonymous attackers use that private information to send police or SWAT teams to a targeted person’s home.

At least two people who died by suicide have been targeted by Kiwi Farms users, according to messages from the victims themselves or friends cited in news reports. Kiwi Farms has also hosted posts that include manifestos from extremist mass shooters.

In a statement Saturday, Clara Sorrenti, who has been leading the charge to force Cloudflare to terminate services for Kiwi Farms, said the move “deals a big blow to Kiwi Farms and their community.” If the site ever becomes active again, the campaign must “continue fighting” and pressure other companies that provide services to it, she said.

Cloudflare, which as recently as Wednesday suggested it won’t cede to pressure to terminate Kiwi Farms as a customer, defended its earlier policy, saying that the “legal process is still the correct way to deal with revolting and potentially illegal content online.”

Still, in the absence of a mechanism for providers like Cloudflare to work with legal authorities over threats to human life, the company was forced to take “this uncomfortable emergency decision alone,” Prince said Saturday.

He warned it’s likely Kiwi Farms will find other infrastructure providers and that Cloudflare’s decision to block the site may heighten the emergency. The company will continue to work with law enforcement authorities to help with their investigations into Kiwi Farms and the users who may have posted illegal content.

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