On the morning of August 5, in London, Ontario, police put an assault rifle in Clara Sorrenti’s face. Sorrenti is a trans activist and Twitch streamer who provides political commentary under the handle Keffals. Earlier that morning, an impersonator had sent an email to city councillors claiming that Sorrenti had killed her mother and would soon go to City Hall to shoot every cisgender person she saw. “When I was woken up by police officers and saw the assault rifle pointed at me, I thought I was going to die,” Sorrenti later recounted in a video on YouTube. “I feel traumatized.”
Sorrenti was the latest victim of a vicious ongoing harassment campaign driven by Kiwi Farms, an online community known for stalking, swattingharassing, doxxing, and intimidating everyone from Gamergate targets to far-right congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene. Its users are known to single out transgender and neurodivergent people in particular. The site is connected to the suicides of at least three people who were targets of sustained harassment. Users’ tactics are exhaustive. For the past decade, Kiwi Farms has operated with impunity—until now.
In the wake of her swatting, Sorrenti began a campaign, Drop Kiwi Farms, to sever the forum’s access to digital service providers. In particular, she drew attention to its web security provider Cloudflare. Kiwi Farms has been allowed to operate for years as a fringe site, but the campaign pushed it into the mainstream eye as Sorrenti gave countless interviews, launched a Twitter campaign, and gathered supporters to put pressure on Cloudflare.
On August 31, CEO Matthew Prince responded indirectly to the campaign with a post on Cloudflare’s abuse policies. Although it did not mention Kiwi Farms or Sorrenti specifically, Prince wrote that “overbroad takedowns can have significant unintended impact on access to content online.”
“Just as the telephone company doesn’t terminate your line if you say awful, racist, bigoted things, we have concluded in consultation with politicians, policy makers, and experts that turning off security services because we think what you publish is despicable is the wrong policy.”
Historically, Cloudflare has been reluctant to drop even neo-Nazi sites like The Daily Stormer, ignoring pressure from critics and claiming neutrality. It wasn’t until 2017 that Cloudflare acted against the extremist site—notably, after the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2019, in the wake of shootings in El Paso, Texas, the company booted 8chana site the shooter frequented. But it took more than a single violent instance to get that response; as Prince noted at the time8chan members were also responsible for the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
This history, then, might give some context as to why Prince responded the way he did when it came to Kiwi Farms—and why it’s so unprecedented that he eventually reversed course. Kiwi Farms’ harassment continued to escalate even after Sorrenti got swatted. By August 14, she and her fiancé had relocated to a local hotel. According to the streamer, users spent hours cross-referencing a photo of bedsheets from the hotel she was staying at (she’d posted a photo of her cat). Once they successfully located her, they sent pizzas to her room under her deadname. “It’s the threat they send by telling me they know where I live and are willing to act on it in the real world,” Sorrenti said in another YouTube video. Her UberEats account got hacked and hundreds of dollars worth of food was sent her way; strangers began sending threatening voicemails to her and her family.