US Internet Services Company Blocks Controversial Harassment Website

(CNN) – Cloudflare, a major American internet services company, withdrew its support for Kiwi Farms, a controversial online message board, on Saturday night, citing “imminent threats to human life.” This decision temporarily forced Kiwi Farms to go offline.

Cloudflare’s decision came as Kiwi Farms was linked to a campaign of harassment and violent threats targeting Clara Sorrenti, a Canadian trans woman who is a streamer on Twitch, a platform popular among video gamers.

Sorrenti, better known by her online name”Keffalslaunched a campaign calling on Cloudflare to stop providing services to the site.

Fearing for her safety after her personal details were published online, Sorrenti said she had left her home in Canada in recent weeks and traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to stay with a friend. However, she says, online stalkers were able to track her down there.

Police in Northern Ireland are investigating threats made against her there, The Sunday Times reported.

Cloudflare’s decision comes amid an ongoing debate about what big internet companies and platforms should do about online hate and harassment campaigns staged with the support of their services.

Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare, has long expressed discomfort with his company’s potential role in deciding what can and cannot go online. It’s a position echoed by others in Silicon Valley who argue that it shouldn’t be up to them to talk to the police online.

“This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous decision that we are not comfortable with,” Prince wrote in an article. blog on Saturday after blocking Kiwi Farms.

But, he said, the rhetoric about Kiwi Farms “and the specific and targeted threats have escalated in the past 48 hours to the point where we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and an immediate threat to life. human unlike anything we’ve seen before from Kiwifarms or any other customer before.”

“Cloudflare provides security services to Kiwifarms, protecting them from DDoS attacks and other cyberattacks. We were never their hosting provider,” Prince added.

In 2019, Cloudflare withdrew its support for the 8chan hate forum after that site was linked to a shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people.

Last Wednesday, amid growing public pressure to stop providing support to Kiwi Farms, Cloudflare published a blog post attempting to clarify its position.

The post didn’t directly refer to Kiwi Farms, but Cloudflare said its decisions to stop supporting 8chan in 2019 and neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer in 2017 had unintended consequences.

“In a deeply disturbing response, after both terminations, we have seen a dramatic rise in authoritarian regimes trying to get us to terminate the security services of human rights organizations,” the blog read. .

By Sunday morning, Kiwi Farms was mostly back online, finding another service provider to keep it on the web.

Sorrenti told CNN on Sunday that she will continue to campaign for all internet service providers to refuse Kiwi Farms business.

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Veronica J. Snell