Clara Sorrenti vs. Kiwi Farms: How a Trans Activist Has Taken Down the ‘Worst Site on the Internet’ | Technology
is the headline of the news that the author of WTM News has collected this article. Stay tuned to WTM News to stay up to date with the latest news on this topic. We ask you to follow us on social networks.
This piece is part of the shipment of the weekly newsletter of Technology, which is sent every Friday. If you want to sign up to receive it in its entirety, with similar topics but more varied and shorter, you can do it at this link.
Opening the door of her house, trans activist Clara Sorrenti saw the barrel of a gun. The police detained her and searched her house because they had received an email where she allegedly threatened a massacre. Only it wasn’t true. The complaint was false and the police apologized, but for Sorrenti it was proof that terrible weeks of her life were beginning.
The false complaint originated from an online forum called Kiwi Farms. It was created more than a decade ago as an offshoot of 8chan, another more famous forum devoted to everything from the politically incorrect to extremism bordering on terrorism. Kiwi Farms had specialized in revealing the identity and publishing private details [doxing en inglés] of people who for some reason hated. The trans community was one of his favorite targets. His victims were calledlolcows” [palabra surgida de lol, un acrónimo de “reírse mucho” y vacas] and described them thus: “People of eccentric behavior who can be ‘milked’ for entertainment”.
Sorrenti is a famous streamer on Twitch, known as Keffals, who often comments on anti-trans policies in the US. In July, she denounced the activity of Kiwi Farms and the harassment she received on her channel. Sorrenti was one more victim. US media link the activity of the page with at least three suicides in recent years. Their notoriety was such that their own users discussed whether they were really “the worst page on the internet”. Near, the author of this thread, he killed himself shortly after, according to Vice.
In July, a few weeks before the police appearance at his home in London, Ontario, Canada, Keffals went live on Twitch where he talked about Kiwi Farms. Going to war against a forum like Kiwi Farms is a difficult risk for a single person to take: it is attracting the attention of thousands of people who control a large manure hose and can point it in any direction.
Sorrenti left her house and went to a hotel. To announce that he was okay, he tweeted the cat photo of him on top of a sheet. Members of Kiwi Farms went through tons of photos of hotels in the area to find out which one they belonged to. When they found him they began to send him pizzas. Sorrenti continued to flee, but his Uber account was hacked, he was sent to pay for food orders with his money and his family was threatened with messages on the answering machine.
Sorrenti decided to go abroad. When he had been in Belfast (Northern Ireland) for a few days, a guy showed up at his house with a threatening sign. The police also arrived, but this time they were able to explain to them what was happening to her before being held at gunpoint. She still doesn’t know how they found her.
The solution for Sorrenti, before a major mishap occurred, was to prevent Kiwi Farms users from being able to coordinate. How? Deleting the forum from the internet.
How to delete a web page
The effort of Sorrenti and the people who supported his cause points to one of the great problems of the Internet: how it is possible to try to suppress a page. A post on a social network is clearly responsible: the company that publishes it, with its moderation rules. But a website is more complicated. Keffals found the only reasonable pressure point: Cloudflare. Cloudflare is a large global corporation that is dedicated to hosting, redirecting and protecting millions of pages on the internet. They presume to serve 20% of the network. One of them was Kiwi Farms.
In the midst of controversy, on August 31, Cloudflare released a post where, without citing Kiwi Farms, they said that they could not abuse their position of power on the Internet. It was not up to them and they could not become the police of freedom of expression or the last resort for immoral speech: “Some say that we should cancel our services with the content that we consider objectionable so that others can launch attacks and take it offline”, he wrote. CEO Matthew Prince. “It is an argument equivalent in the physical world to the fire department not responding to fires in the homes of people who do not possess sufficient moral character.”
Cloudflare, among other things, offers the service of protection against massive denial of service attacks. They are the presumed equivalent of firefighters in the real world. In the real world, Kefalls’s allies would have said, according to Cloudflare: move away, because we want to burn this house down. In the digital world they said, instead: remove the protection that we want to launch thousands of bots against this page so that it is not accessible. It is, however, an inaccurate argument: Cloudflare is a company, not a public service, with the added problem that it is too big and decisions fall to it that do not affect it anyway.
The desire not to be firefighters lasted four days. In another post they announced that they were reluctantly dropping Kiwi Farms: “It is an exceptional decision and, given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, it is a dangerous initiative with which we do not feel comfortable,” Prince wrote. “However, the rhetoric on the Kiwi Farms site and the targeted threats have escalated over the past 48 hours to the point where we believe there is an unprecedented emergency situation and an imminent threat to human life.”
It is an extremely delicate matter. Makes for long discussions. Cloudflare is a private company that ultimately decides when to give in to outside pressure. In this case there were people in real danger. Governments and national police forces do not have the capacity or desire to control this type of global forum, where thousands of bored and obnoxious young people try to destroy the lives of others just for entertainment. In Germany there has been a case where the police have arrested a young woman for publishing private data on the internet of one of the victims of Kiwi Farms.
Kiwi Farms went online to other providers, but none assured Cloudflare’s protection. Now, a few days later, he still can’t get back on the internet. They are a Telegram channel with 10,000 followers. His fall seems to have been carried by forward to the other two pages that Cloudflare had expelled: in 2017 the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer and in 2019 the conspiracy and extremist forum 8kun, heir to 8chan, origin of Kiwi Farms.
You can follow THE COUNTRY TECHNOLOGY in Facebook Y Twitter or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.