Web security firm Cloudflare drops anti-trans website over ‘threat to human life’

·3 min read

Web security firm Cloudfare on Saturday dropped services for stalking website Kiwifarms, citing an “threat to human life” posed by the social media platform’s users.

For the past few weeks, Cloudfare has faced calls from transgender rights activists to shut down the website, which they say gives a platform for users who are harassing, doxxing and threatening the LGBTQ+ community.

Earlier this week, Matthew Prince, a co-founder and CEO of Cloudfare, defended the firm’s decision to continue defending controversial websites.

However, on Sunday, Prince said in a blog post that visitors who navigate onto Kiwifarms will now see a popup blocking access, with a link to his post.

Prince said the website was hosting “revolting content” that escalated into “potential criminal acts and imminent threats to human life.”

“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, saying he had to shut down the website even after working with law enforcement.

“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 added.

Clara Sorrenti, a Twitch streamer behind the “DropKiwifarms” campaign, said the far-right platform is “falling to pieces as we speak.”

“Just now they have been able to get the website up, but now it’s on the dark web,” Sorrenti tweeted Sunday afternoon. “Less than 1% of users will come over now that it’s incredibly inaccessible. This is a huge win.”

Sorrenti began her campaign after Kiwifarms users made threats against her life, leaked sexually explicit photos of her and even doxxed her — or released information about her online.

Cloudfare is used by more than 20 percent of the entire internet for its web security services. The company protects customer’s websites online, usually against distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyberattacks, which can shut down a website by flooding it with fake traffic.

Kiwifarms, which evolved from a Wiki site in 2008, is a chat platform where users communicate on threads. Most of the site is used to specifically target and harass online figures, especially the transgender community.

According to Sorrenti, who has kept track of harassed targets, users have been known to record “Kill Counts” — targets who committed suicide — in their profile bios.

Cloudfare has twice before dropped services for customers it deemed in violation of its policies.

In 2017, Cloudfare dropped support for The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. In 2019 they halted services for the conspiracy social platform 8chan, which has been used by mass shooters to post manifestos or screeds, including the El Paso, Texas, shooter in August 2019.

However, both websites found other internet infrastructure that allowed them to come back online. The same could be true for Kiwifarms, Prince wrote in his blog.

“We recognize that while our blocking Kiwifarms temporarily addresses the situation, it by no means solves the underlying problem. That solution will require much more work across society,” he wrote.

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