After Kiwi Farms Deplatform, Trans Activists Celebrate Rare Victory Against Online Trolls

Sorrenti, better known by his online username “Keffals,” started talking about transgender rights on Twitch, a popular live video streaming platform, before appearing on a notorious online forum where users were openly transphobic. I was targeted in a harassment campaign organized at one Kiwi Farms. with video gamers.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, Sorrenti said: “Having your own thread on a kiwi farm means there are enough people interested in participating in a long-term harassment campaign against you.” and explained how he was targeted by kiwi farm users. .

“The first thing they did when my thread opened was find my late father’s obituary and use it to find his memorial Facebook page,” she explained. They were able to find a photo of my father at the front door of my childhood home and used Google Maps to locate it.”

The trolling and harassment continued, and when more information about her whereabouts was made available to the trolls, she left Canada to be with a friend and fellow transgender activist in Belfast, Northern Ireland. But the trolls tracked her down here too.

“Exhausted” by running, Sorrenti finally decides to launch a campaign to kick kiwi farms off the internet.

What Sorrenti has done, and the issues she has raised, are the next frontier in the debate about what major Internet companies should do against online hate and harassment campaigns organized in support of their services. may become.

While social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have received a lot of attention in recent years, other Internet service companies face scrutiny as well.

Removing a website from the internet is not an easy task. Admittedly, reporting a hateful Twitter or Facebook account is not an easy task. It’s a situation where one company can decide what is allowed on its platform. The Internet as a whole is much more free and unregulated.

However, a website cannot go online or stay online by itself. They rely on companies that provide hosting, cybersecurity, and other services. Now, campaigners like Sorrenti say it’s time for these providers, too, to take responsibility for hateful and violent threats online.

One such company that stands out in the Kiwi Farms discussion is American giant Cloudflare.

Cloudflare offers a suite of services, but in the case of Kiwi Farms, Cloudflare was neither the platform nor the host. Instead, Kiwi Farms used Cloudflare’s security services to protect against cyberattacks. This kind of service is essential to keep your website online. If Cloudflare blocks service to a site, it can essentially go offline, at least until the site finds another provider.

In 2019, Cloudflare withdrew its support for another hateful forum, 8chan, after it was linked to the El Paso, Texas shooting that killed 23 people. Cloudflare also blocked the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer from using its services in 2017.

However, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince has long expressed displeasure about the role his company may play in determining what can and cannot be brought online. Prince’s position is frequently echoed by others in Silicon Valley who argue that it should not be their responsibility to police online speech.

Cloudflare first announced it would not be taking action against Kiwi Farms last week, explaining in a blog post what was seen as an unintended consequence of dropping support for 8chan and The Daily Stormer.

Although the post didn’t directly mention kiwi farms, Cloudflare’s decision to stop providing support to 8chan in 2019 and the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer in 2017, I said it had unintended consequences.

“In a very troubling response, both terminations were followed by a dramatic increase in authoritarian regimes seeking to terminate the security services of human rights organizations,” the blog post read.

By Saturday, however, as the media focused on Kiwi Farms following reports on NBC’s site, Cloudflare changed its position, citing an “imminent threat to human life” and suspending service to Kiwi Farms. decided.

Kiwi Farms was temporarily inaccessible after Cloudflare ended support, but was quickly back online with the help of DDos-Guard, a Russian internet service company. (DDos is a type of cyberattack that makes a website inaccessible.)

But on Monday, DDos-Guard also blocked Kiwi Farms.

DDos-Guard issued a statement explaining: It hit the spotlight over the weekend. ”

Clara Sorrenti

“Because we are not Facebook and do not aspire to be Facebook, we do not moderate content posted on our customers’ sites,” the company said, adding that “anything that would be considered unacceptable under any circumstance. There is,” he added.

Alissa Starzak, Cloudflare’s global head of public policy, told CNN on Monday that a more “holistic” approach is needed to tackle hate online.

“We really need a long-term solution because the retirement of security services does not address threats such as online harassment, escalating violence and even death threats in the long term. It’s from.”

Commenting on Cloudflare’s initial reaction, Sorrenti said: “They don’t want to see a future where companies can decide, ‘I like this site. It should be on the internet. I don’t like this site. It shouldn’t be.’ I don’t think it’s a free speech issue. ”

“When a website becomes a threat to people’s lives, it should absolutely be removed from the internet,” she added.

Actions by Cloudflare and DDos-Guard have essentially taken Kiwi Farms offline, at least for now.

Sorrenti knows that taking a site offline doesn’t mean all trolls will go away, but he hopes it will be harder to recruit.

“There will be a chilling effect on this by showing them that we can organize against this kind of online harassment and make it work,” she said.


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