US internet service company blocks controversial online forum citing ‘imminent threats to human life’
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.
Fearing for her safety after her personal details were posted online, Sorrenti said she left her home in Canada in recent weeks and traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to stay with a friend. However, she says, the online harassers were able to track her down there.
Cloudflare’s decision comes amid an ongoing debate about what major internet companies and platforms should do about online hate and harassment campaigns that are organized with the support of their services.
Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare, has long expressed discomfort about his company’s potential role of deciding what can and cannot be online. It is a position echoed by others in Silicon Valley who argue it shouldn’t be up to them to police speech online.
But, he said the rhetoric on Kiwi Farms “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.”
“Cloudflare provides security services to Kiwifarms, protecting them from DDoS and other cyberattacks. We have never been their hosting provider,” Prince added.
Last Wednesday amid increasing public pressure to stop providing support to Kiwi Farms, Cloudflare released a blog post attempting to clarify its position.
“In a deeply troubling response, after both terminations we saw a dramatic increase in authoritarian regimes attempting to have us terminate security services for human rights organizations,” the blog post read.
By Sunday morning, Kiwi Farms was mostly back up online, finding another service provider to keep it on the web.
Sorrenti told CNN Sunday she is going to continue to campaign to have all internet service providers refuse Kiwi Farms business.