Cache | Cloudflare’s change of heart

Internet hosting service Cloudflare buckled under pressure as it was forced to stop providing service to an online forum known for hateful content

Updated - September 06, 2022 04:29 pm IST

Published - September 05, 2022 04:25 pm IST

Cache | Cloudflare’s change of heart

Cache | Cloudflare’s change of heart | Photo Credit: Getty Images

A month ago, Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti was raided at home. According to Sorrenti, the police search warrant said they were “looking for handgun, ammunition, cartridges, cleaning tools, a gun case, cell phones and computers.”

She was later arrested. In addition, the police booked her under her deadname, which has not been her legal name in more than 10 years. The raid came after emails stating she intended to harm her family and members went out to every city councillor in London, Ontario.

But the emails were fake. In a YouTube video on the incident, Sorrenti, a trans woman, said the fraudulent emails were an “obvious attempt to make the police humiliate” her. She claimed that Kiwi Farms, a notorious messaging board known for targeting and doxxing vulnerable people, was behind this swatting campaign.

Swatting is an internet harassment method where someone pretends there’s an emergency at their target’s home, prompting police to send a SWAT team.

Kiwi Farms is known for being a trolling website. On it, users specifically misidentify trans people, and often single out people to harass and dox them. And this notorious messaging board’s website has been hosted by Cloudflare, a Internet security and hosting service provider.

Sorrenti and her supporters demanded Cloudflare stop protecting Kiwi Farms with #DropKiwifarms and #CloudflareProtectsTerrorists hashtags on Twitter. They noted that Cloudflare provides DDoS protection to Kiwi Farms. This helps the messaging board stay online.      

On Wednesday, Cloudflare said it would not deny security service to any of its customers, but the statement did not mention Kiwi Farms. Three days later, on Saturday, the content delivery network (CDN) provider said it will block the messaging board from its service.

In the update, the CDN provider claimed it didn’t block the site due to the social media campaign, but as a result of uptick in aggressive activity on the platform. It further noted that it’s “uncomfortable” with its decision, and believes its action may further intensify the issue.

While Kiwi Farms is currently inaccessible, it is highly likely for the website to migrate to Russian servers from the current American CDN provider Cloudflare. So, for now, the battle may have been won by Sorrenti and her supporters, but the war is not over yet.

(This article is part of Today’s Cache, The Hindu’s newsletter on emerging themes at the intersection of technology, innovation and policy. To get Today’s Cache in your inbox, subscriber here.)

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