By Mike Murphy
Cloudflare has been pressured in recent weeks to drop Kiwi Farms as a customer for its users' harassment against trans people
Cybersecurity company Cloudflare Inc. announced over the weekend that it will block Kiwi Farms, an online forum notorious for its harassment of transgender people, for posing an "immediate threat to human life."
In a blog post Saturday, Cloudflare Chief Executive Matthew Prince said that while Cloudflare felt uncomfortable in banning the group, it was necessary due to an "unprecedented emergency" of "specific, targeted threats" in the past 48 hours.
"We think there is an imminent danger, and the pace at which law enforcement is able to respond to those threats we don't think is fast enough to keep up," Prince said.
A public campaign to deplatform Kiwi Farms -- led by trans Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, also known as Keffals, who has been targeted with abuse from Kiwi Farms users -- had pressured Cloudflare for weeks.
Prince said that as the pressure campaign gained strength, Kiwi Farms users lashed out even more.
"Feeling attacked, users of the site became even more aggressive," he said. "Over the last two weeks, we have proactively reached out to law enforcement in multiple jurisdictions highlighting what we believe are potential criminal acts and imminent threats to human life that were posted to the site."
In a statement Saturday, Sorrenti hailed "a historical moment where thousands of people have stood up and taken a stance against online harassment and hate."
"However, this is not the end," Sorrenti said. "If we want to see the end of Kiwi Farms and communities like theirs, we must continue fighting."
For weeks, Cloudflare had resisted blocking Kiwi Farms, arguing that "overbroad takedowns can have significant unintended impact on access to content online."
In his blog post Saturday, Prince said the deplatforming decision was "an extraordinary decision for us to make" and "one that we are not comfortable with."
"But we need a mechanism when there is an emergency threat to human life for infrastructure providers to work expediently with legal authorities in order to ensure the decisions we make are grounded in due process. Unfortunately, that mechanism does not exist and so we are making this uncomfortable emergency decision alone," he wrote.
While Cloudflare did not host Kiwi Farms, it did provide security services vital to keeping the site online.
Kiwi Farms was started in 2013 by a former 8chan administrator, and quickly became known for its users' harassment of minorities, women and LGBTQ people, and is blamed for a number of cyberbullying-related suicides. A 2016 exposé by New York Magazine dubbed the site "the web's biggest community of stalkers."
Cloudflare has previously blocked dangerous platforms, such as the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer in 2017 and "cesspool of hate" 8chan in 2019.
Cloudflare shares (NET) have sunk more than 20% over the past month, and are down 55% year to date, compared to the S&P 500's declines of 5% and 18%, respectively, over those spans.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 06, 2022 08:25 ET (12:25 GMT)
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