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Cloudflare urged to cut ties with site that encourages harassment

(Bloomberg) – Cloudflare Inc., an internet services company, is facing growing online protests demanding it stop supporting Kiwi Farms, a harassment and hate campaign discussion board that forced a transgender Twitch streamer well known to hide.

Clara Sorrenti, who streams live on Twitch as Keffals, has gathered an audience on the platform for her political commentary, including discussions of LGBTQ rights. The 28-year-old Canadian said she had recently become the target of relentless harassment from Kiwi Farms users.

Sorrenti said police descended on her home in London, Ont., on August 5 and wrongly arrested her after someone impersonating her emailed fake threats of violence to police officials. city, an incident known as swatting. After moving undercover, Sorrenti said Kiwi Farms users tracked his every move and made his location public – a tactic called doxxing.

“There are countless people actively harassed by this site every day — most of them neurodivergent or transgender,” Sorrenti said in an interview. “It would help a lot of people if Cloudflare no longer provided its services to Kiwi Farms.”

Founded in 2013, Kiwi Farms hosts content that wouldn’t be welcome elsewhere online, including posts containing slurs, personal information about others, and even videos and manifestos regarding mass shooters. At least two people who died by suicide have been targeted by Kiwi Farms users, according to the victims themselves and friends of those quoted in the dispatches. As part of the campaign against Cloudflare, several Twitter users have publicly described the mental anguish they experienced following threads about them on Kiwi Farms. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican lawmaker from Georgia who has sought to criminalize gender-affirming surgery, also called for the removal of Kiwi Farms. She was recently run over herself after false reports of violence sent police to her home, she said, sharing surveillance footage that captured the incident.

In August, the #DropKiwiFarms campaign was mentioned 10,000 times on Twitter.

“It’s been very emotional,” Sorrenti said, describing the support she received from the Cloudflare protests. “The advice most people targeted by Kiwi Farms get is that if they talk about it it will make the harassment worse. But with this campaign they have decided to talk about it publicly. It made me feel a lot less alone knowing that there were so many people there who had to face the same nightmare that I had to face, and they probably felt less alone too.

Kiwi Farms owner and administrator Joshua Moon, who goes by the name Null, said “the forum does not condone any behavior outside of on-site discussion.” The site has gone offline several times since the start of the campaign, apparently following DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks from Internet users. Kiwi Farms receives 10 million views per month, according to data from SimilarWeb, which analyzes web traffic.

On Tuesday, the #DropKiwiFarms campaign intensified when Sorrenti launched a website called dropkiwifarms.net and called for a protest outside the Cloudflare Connect conference in San Francisco on October 18 if the company does not drop support for the site. .

Social media companies have struggled for years over whether to remove accounts that violate their terms of service or cause public harm. Sorrenti’s campaign seeks to highlight the role of Cloudflare – and the role of similar companies – in empowering alleged harms online.

Cloudflare has been careful not to engage in moderation and has refused to deny services to companies or sites deemed controversial. The San Francisco-based company has stopped supporting certain sites in the past, however, including the white supremacist blog Daily Stormer in 2017 after the death of protester Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. At the time, CEO Matthew Prince said the “tipping point” was Daily Stormer affiliates claiming Cloudflare secretly supported their ideology.

In 2019, Cloudflare terminated the service of the controversial 8chan forum. Prince attributed the decision to 8chan’s ties to the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Christchurch, New Zealand. “We reluctantly tolerate content that we deem objectionable, but we draw the line on platforms that have been shown to directly inspire tragic events and are anarchic by design,” Prince wrote in a blog post at the time.

Cloudflare did not respond to the #DropKiwiFarms campaign. Prince wrote in 2017 that the company is not terminating customers due to political pressure. The company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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