Two web hosting providers have confirmed that they are no longer serving hateful content promoting a message board called Kiwi Farms. The notorious website allowed people to spread misinformation and harass vulnerable groups
The story so far: Internet infrastructure provider Cloudflare succumbed to pressure on Saturday. The US-based company has blocked the notorious Kiwi Farms newsgroup from its platform. Their decision to deplatform the site came after Canadian activist Clara Sorrenti and her supporters heavily criticized the company for providing security to the site against DDoS attacks. Ms Sorrenti claimed Kiwi Farms orchestrated a campaign of violence against her which led to her arrest in August. While the web hosting service first expressed its disapproval of the idea last week, Cloudflare confirmed on September 4 that it had blocked Kiwi Farms. A day later, Russian DDoS-Guard also announced that it was terminating DDoS protection services for the Kiwi Farms version of the site.
On September 6, Ms. Sorrenti tweeted: “We won. Kiwi Farms is dead. #DropKiwiFarms.”
What is Kiwi Farms?
Kiwi Farms is a hate group that allows its users to harass women, people who are neurodivergent, or members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The group is known for “doxxing” vulnerable individuals it classifies as “lolcows” or sources of entertainment. These people’s personal information is made public so that others can harass them, sometimes through “slapping”.
Swatting is a tactic used by members of the site to send law enforcement teams to their targets’ homes by relaying fraudulent messages. Kiwi farms have also been linked to the suicides of many people who were targeted. This site was blocked in New Zealand following the 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting.
Kiwi Farms “busted” Ms. Sorrenti on Aug. 5 by impersonating her and emailing a London, Ontario city councilor with terrorist threats. Ms. Sorrenti was arrested at gunpoint, killed by police and mistakenly identified as a man. She claimed the incident was an attempt by Kiwi Farms to humiliate her.
Ms. Sorrenti and her community tweeted the hashtags #DropKiwifarms and #CloudflareProtectsTerrorists to pressure Cloudflare to stop providing security for the site. Cloudflare did not host Kiwi Farms, but only protected them from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
What is the impact of the web hosting company’s action?
Companies like Cloudflare prevent online platforms from being hit by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, where requests are used to bring down targeted hosts. Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince confirmed on September 4 that Cloudflare had blocked Kiwi Farms, describing the decision as “extraordinary” and “dangerous”.
“However, the rhetoric on Kiwifarm’s website and the specific, targeted threats have escalated over the past 48 hours to the point where we believe there is an unprecedented state of emergency and imminent threat to human life unlike anything we’ve seen before from Kiwifarm or any other customer. ” he said in a post on the company’s blog.
In 2017, Cloudflare blocked the neo-Nazi troll site “The Daily Stormer” and in 2019 blocked the conspiracy theory forum 8chan, calling their content “reprehensible”.
According to a Telegram statement shared by a journalist on September 4, Kiwi Farms said it had received a “vague suspension notice” and that Mr. Prince’s message was “vague.”
“I have not received any word from any law enforcement agencies if there is any threat to life at the scene,” the announcement said. Kiwi Farms also confirmed that it is fixing its URL on the Tor browser, which is used to access the deep web and dark web.
“Two hosts who believe they can handle kiwi farms are probably wrong.” DDoS-Guard was confident they could handle Kiwi Farms and said to ‘bring it on’ in less than 24 hours,” Kiwi Farms’ September 5 statement added.
Ms Sorrenti tweeted at Moon on September 6, claiming: “Your site is dead, you have no main source of income and no options.”
She invited the founder of Kiwi Farms to sell her his domain so she could direct her to the suicide crisis hotline. However, if more web hosting providers do not abandon Kiwi Farms, it is possible that the platform will survive, albeit in a more erratic and disjointed form.
“Kiwifarms themselves will most likely find other infrastructure to allow them to come back online, as Daily Stormer and 8chan did after we shut them down,” Mr Prince said in a statement.
Cloudflare is one of the largest networks in the world and said it powers “nearly 10 percent of all Internet requests for more than 2.5 billion people worldwide.”