What is Kiwi Farms and why was the website blocked?
Cloudflare, in the midst of an about-face, has blocked access to an extremist-friendly online forum for which it provides security services. Kiwi Farms is known to discuss and compile information on people it deems eccentric, then dox them, their family and friends with the aim of launching campaigns of harassment.
The move came after the company discovered that targeted threats were escalating to such an extent that “there is an unprecedented urgency and immediate threat to human life unlike what we have seen before.” A few days earlier, the company released a statement, without mentioning Kiwi Farms, saying it would not block the forum despite a campaign started by a current victim pressuring Cloudflare to do so.
Kiwi Farms ‘breeding ground for countless harassment campaigns’
Started in 2013 by Josh “Null” Moon as a forum to troll and harass a webcomic artist, Kiwi Farms became what New York Magazine dubbed “the largest community of stalkers on the web” by 2016. The platform’s primary user targets are the individuals its members call “lolcows”, people who might be “processed” for entertainment. Generally focusing on people who are members of the LGBTQ community. The Anti-Defamation League considers the forum a “fertile ground for countless harassment campaigns.”
Members compile information about targets, track their activities and then dox them, the act of maliciously posting private information. They also hack victims’ online accounts like Uber which was the case for one of the forums current targets, Clara “Keffal” Sorrenti, Canadian transgender activist and Twitch host. She recently had hundreds of dollars worth of food sent to her in connection with the ongoing harassment of her.
Kiwi Farms harassment campaigns can be life threatening
Harassment campaigns are designed to isolate targets or get them fired from their jobs by spreading false rumors that they are criminals or pedophiles. These campaigns have pushed some people to commit suicidebut other tactics have place victims in life-threatening situations.
Kiwi Farms members will “crush” their victims by sending a false emergency report to the police that the target is about to commit a violent crime. The intention is for law enforcement to respond by raiding the victim’s home and potentially harming the individual.
It happened in Keffal when police received calls claiming she was going to carry out a mass shooting at City Hall in her hometown of London, Ontario. Officers quickly showed up at her house with assault rifles ready and arrested her at gunpoint. They later released her, but this sparked a week-long harassment campaign that forced to flee to Europe. Her stalkers found her there and ran her over twice in Ireland.
The ordeal was “a nightmare” in Keffal’s words. She told NBC “I constantly have this nagging thought in the back of my head, ‘What are they doing? Are they planning something? Will there be another escalation?
Kiwi Farms down but not necessarily gone
The news of Kiwi Farms being blocked by Cloudflare was celebrated by Keffal, stating in a statement “This is a historic moment when thousands of people have stood up and taken a stand against online harassment and hate.” To add “This is a blow to Kiwi Farms and their community that they may never recover from.. But that doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels.
Without Cloudflare’s security services, the forum will be open to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks where it could be flooded with fake internet traffic, rendering it unusable. However, the Kiwi Farms website is hosted on servers in a Las Vegas data center owned by Fiberhub. Keffal called for pressure on the IT company if the forum becomes operational again.