On Sept. 3, San Francisco-based internet infrastructure provider Cloudflare made the decision to officially block online forum Kiwi Farms from use of its services. Cloudflare’s decision followed a public pressure campaign responding to years of Kiwi Farms’ well-documented white-supremacist, transphobic rhetoric and harassment. Today, HORNET and SPACES — two social media platforms built with queer people’s safety and authenticity at their core — weigh in on this latest high-profile instance of online actors maliciously targeting the LGBTQ+ community.
Notorious for its anti-trans harassment campaigns that have included “doxxing” and “swatting” attempts, most famously of trans activist and streamer Clara Sorrenti, Kiwi Farms has long been regarded as “the worst place on the internet.” The online forum was involved in the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and multiple targets of Kiwi Farms’ hateful and harassing content have taken their own lives.
Despite being blocked by Cloudflare, as of Sept. 6, Kiwi Farms has already found a new web host for its hate-filled rhetoric in the Washington-based firm VanwaTech. Presumably its campaigns against the queer community and other marginalized people will continue.
HORNET and SPACES weigh in on this latest example of corporate negligence that harms LGBTQ+ people and online bad actors who actively target the queer community:
For so long the general public has been led to believe that things are getting better in terms of online hate and harassment actively targeting the LGBTQ+ community, but are they? Organizations like GLAAD tell us (most recently via their second annual Social Media Safety Index) that the opposite is true: In 2022, 84% of LGBTQ adults feel mainstream social platforms aren’t doing enough to keep them safe, and 66% of LGBTQ people have experienced harassment online, up 2% from the previous year’s findings.
Social media platforms and web hosting firms have a duty to protect queer people and other unfairly vilified segments of society — particularly when these segments’ marginalization is further proliferated through technology — and that duty is being shirked by nearly all. It’s the exact reason why on June 1, Hornet Networks, Ltd., and Queer Spaces, inc., welcomed Pride Month 2022 by unveiling our Safety Pledge, a tech industry first. And it’s the reason why building the safest possible digital platforms for the LGBTQ+ community is our foremost goal.
Would Cloudflare have blocked Kiwi Farms without an intense public pressure campaign aiming to hold the web hosting firm accountable? It’s doubtful. This latest example of willful corporate negligence is simply more proof that LGBTQ+ safety online will only follow from our own community and allies taking a stand. Companies that do not have queer people’s best interests at heart should not be rewarded with our community’s energy, money or attention. The time for platforms built BY and FOR the LGBTQ+ community is now.
Featured image at top: Getty Images