On Sept. 3, internet services provider Cloudflare announced that it was terminating its business relationship with Kiwi Farms, a website with a reputation for fomenting harassment campaigns and fostering an environment of hate. The decision came after weeks of social media pressure led by one of the site’s targets: a trans Twitch streamer named Clara “Keffals” Sorrenti, who was the victim of escalating targeted harassment after her personal information was posted on Kiwi Farms.
Citing “an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life,” Cloudflare blocked the site from its servers, effectively dismantling its infrastructure and forcing it offline. The #DropKiwiFarms campaign declared victory. “We won,” Sorrenti tweeted two days later. “Kiwi Farms is dead.”
However, six weeks later, Kiwi Farms is back up and running on its original URL. Although the extremist site faltered on its way back to the clearnet (a term for the publicly accessible internet) — a number of security service providers and hosts refused to do business with Kiwi Farms — it appears to have been steadily online for nearly a week as of press time. And its owner, Joshua “Null” Moon, seems determined to keep it that way based on the regular website status updates he posts on Telegram, which detail, among other things, multiple distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and a hack of the website’s user data.
The 12-year-old Kiwi Farms is a proudly offensive, hate speech–laden message board that dedicates a large swath of its site to tracking the lives of, and making abusive commentary about, those it deems worthy of mockery. These individuals are dubbed “lolcows,” and they are “milked” for content. Many of the site’s favorite targets are neurodivergent people, individuals with disabilities and/or mental illness, and members of the LGBTQ community — particularly transgender men and women, who are referred to as “troons” by Kiwi Farms denizens.
The site, which was dubbed “the web’s biggest community of stalkers” in a 2016 New York magazine article, is notorious for doxxing its targets in threads, posting sensitive data (including contact information) about the individual in question and, often, about their family members and employers. These repositories of personal information have for years made the site a one-stop shop for online bad actors wishing to engage in targeted harassment. The site has been linked to the suicides of three individuals; Moon has vehemently denied Kiwi Farms’ involvement in these deaths in multiple posts on the website.
Currently, the mood on Kiwi Farms is defiant and gleeful. “We’re back,” one user wrote on Sept. 27. “Cope and seethe.” Kiwi Farmers are currently updating the threads about the deplatforming campaign with memes mocking Sorrenti and commentary about — and criticism of — the many media outlets that covered the website’s “death.”
So where does this leave those that pushed for its deplatforming?
In a “final statement” posted on the official #DropKiwiFarms website on Sept. 5, Sorrenti said, “Whether or not we are able to completely remove Kiwi Farms from the internet is irrelevant to the fact that the goals of our campaign have not only been achieved, but have achieved more than we could have ever expected.” (Sorrenti did not respond to a request to comment for this story.)
Liz Fong-Jones, another prominent figure in the #DropKiwiFarms campaign, shared Sorrenti’s sentiments, telling BuzzFeed News that even if Kiwi Farms is online for the time being, internet companies have taken steps to minimize its harmfulness. The Internet Archive now excludes Kiwi Farms, and past versions of the website have been scrubbed from its history. And, as Fong-Jones and Sorrenti noted on Twitter last month, results from kiwifarms.net appear to have been deranked on Google.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Google said that while it had not deindexed Kiwi Farms, the fact that it has been offline for periods of time since Cloudflare terminated its services has likely affected the search results. “Hateful ideas and calls for violence are abhorrent, and while we allow people to find available pages on the web, we design our search ranking systems to avoid unexpectedly exposing people to hateful or harmful content,” a Google spokesperson added. “We’ve strengthened our systems to better protect people against harassment, and have policies under which people can request the removal of personal information from our search results, including doxxing content.”
Fong-Jones, 35, is the field CTO of the startup Honeycomb and a former Google engineer. She is a trans woman and outspoken trans rights activist, which was how she first registered on Kiwi Farms’ radar and became a target for harassment, she told BuzzFeed News. She has been working to take down the site, which she said is “dedicated to stalking and threatening trans people until they commit suicide” since 2017. “It’s been a second gig, as it were, on and off for the past five and a half years,” she said.
Fong-Jones told BuzzFeed News that Kiwi Farms is currently being kept afloat by four service providers that, she believes, are aware that Moon is their client. (Over the past month, some service providers have dropped Kiwi Farms when they were made aware of the website’s content.) Since three of these service providers are in the European Union, she said, the next step in deplatforming Kiwi Farms will require EU residents targeted on the website to submit General Data Protection Regulation complaints. “It is going to be a protracted regulatory siege for the foreseeable future,” she noted in a Twitter thread tracking Kiwi Farms developments.
Kiwi Farms may currently be back online, Fong-Jones said, but without Cloudflare’s servers and security protections, a much larger burden has been placed on the site’s owner to keep it running. “Joshua Moon has had to duct-tape together his own version of Cloudflare,” she said. “I’d estimate that he’s paying hundreds if not thousands each month now,” as opposed to one likely lower monthly payment. The website is also now far more vulnerable to DDoS attacks, she said, a fact that Moon has confirmed in Telegram updates and posts on Kiwi Farms message boards. “When you make enemies out of everyone on the internet, people try to attack your site. It’s a natural thing that tends to happen on the internet,” Fong-Jones said. She emphasized that she is not and has not been involved in any attempts to DDoS attack Kiwi Farms.
Ultimately, she said, the future of Kiwi Farms will come down to the website’s owner. “I don’t think Joshua Moon is going to be able to financially sustain running this site for another six months,” she said. “He’s losing providers, he’s unable to get refunds, he’s having to write all this code himself to provide DDoS protections. I just don’t think it’s sustainable.”
Fong-Jones points out that Kiwi Farms is a business, with money coming from users who donate in the form of cryptocurrency. What will happen, Fong-Jones asked, when it takes time for the site to load, or when people question whether their login information is safe? “Is it fun anymore? The less people enjoy tormenting [others] on Kiwi Farms, the less money they’ll contribute.”
Between all of these factors, Fong-Jones said, “it’s just a matter of time” until the site folds for good. “I haven’t been able to say that for the past five years.”
Moon declined to respond to requests for comment about this particular story, but in September, one day before Cloudflare dropped his website, he replied to a BuzzFeed News email asking him about the #DropKiwiFarms campaign and a swatting attack on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene that was attributed to the website.
“You’re on BuzzFeed so no one is going to care what you have to say,” he explained. “If I thought people would care, I wouldn’t reply. The ADL, ABC, CBC, PBS, NBC, Insider, etc. are already printing their narrative.”
Linking to an official statement posted on Kiwi Farms, he said that the “criminals” swatting Greene and Sorrenti and the activists calling for the site’s deplatforming are “different people on the same team — one instigates a more legitimate problem that can be blamed on us, and the other takes the opportunity to land that shot.”
Moon has long maintained that Kiwi Farms is a “discussion forum” — or, as he put it in his email to BuzzFeed News, a “comedy forum.” He said that no one on the site “is trying to hurt people.” He added, “We’re lucky enough to have the space we have, considering the opposition that grows each year against us. If it was a criminal site I’d just host it on Tor and let people do what they want.”
While it may eventually come to that, as of now, Moon seems prepared to keep on fighting — as do those who have long sought its deplatforming. “Kiwi Farms has hurt a whole bunch of people, and we’re fed up,” Fong-Jones said. “Whether it takes a month or a year, we’re in this for the long haul.”