This post is also available in 简体中文, 日本語, Deutsch, Français, Español.
We have blocked Kiwifarms. Visitors to any of the Kiwifarms sites that use any of Cloudflare's services will see a Cloudflare block page and a link to this post. Kiwifarms may move their sites to other providers and, in doing so, come back online, but we have taken steps to block their content from being accessed through our infrastructure.
This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare's role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous one that we are not comfortable with. However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site 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.
Kiwifarms has frequently been host to revolting content. Revolting content alone does not create an emergency situation that necessitates the action we are taking today. Beginning approximately two weeks ago, a pressure campaign started with the goal to deplatform Kiwifarms. That pressure campaign targeted Cloudflare as well as other providers utilized by the site.
Cloudflare provided security services to Kiwifarms, protecting them from DDoS and other cyberattacks. We have never been their hosting provider. As we outlined last Wednesday, we do not believe that terminating security services is appropriate, even to revolting content. In a law-respecting world, the answer to even illegal content is not to use other illegal means like DDoS attacks to silence it.
We are also not taking this action directly because of the pressure campaign. While we have empathy for its organizers, we are committed as a security provider to protecting our customers even when they run deeply afoul of popular opinion or even our own morals. The policy we articulated last Wednesday remains our policy. We continue to believe that the best way to relegate cyberattacks to the dustbin of history is to give everyone the tools to prevent them.
However, as the pressure campaign escalated, so did the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site. Feeling attacked, users of Kiwifarms became even more aggressive. Over the last two weeks, we have proactively reached out to law enforcement in multiple jurisdictions highlighting what we believe are potential criminal acts and imminent threats to human life that were posted to the site.
While law enforcement in these areas are working to investigate what we and others reported, unfortunately the process is moving more slowly than the escalating risk. While we believe that in every other situation we have faced — including the Daily Stormer and 8chan — it would have been appropriate as an infrastructure provider for us to wait for legal process, in this case the imminent and emergency threat to human life which continues to escalate causes us to take this action.
Hard cases make bad law. This is a hard case and we would caution anyone from seeing it as setting precedent. The policies we articulated last Wednesday remain our policies. For an infrastructure provider like Cloudflare, legal process is still the correct way to deal with revolting and potentially illegal content online.
But we need a mechanism when there is an emergency threat to human life for infrastructure providers to work expediently with legal authorities in order to ensure the decisions we make are grounded in due process. Unfortunately, that mechanism does not exist and so we are making this uncomfortable emergency decision alone.
Not the end
Finally, we are aware and concerned that our action may only fan the flames of this emergency. Kiwifarms itself will most likely find other infrastructure that allows them to come back online, as the Daily Stormer and 8chan did themselves after we terminated them. And, even if they don't, the individuals that used the site to increasingly terrorize will feel even more isolated and attacked and may lash out further. There is real risk that by taking this action today we may have further heightened the emergency.
We will continue to work proactively with law enforcement to help with their investigations into the site and the individuals who have posted what may be illegal content to it. And we recognize that while our blocking Kiwifarms temporarily addresses the situation, it by no means solves the underlying problem. That solution will require much more work across society. We are hopeful that our action today will help provoke conversations toward addressing the larger problem. And we stand ready to participate in that conversation.