36 votes

Cloudflare blocks Kiwifarms

41 comments

  1. [3]
    unknown user
    (edited )
    Link
    If anyone wants a good rundown on KF and what's going on with them currently, here's a good summary from an NBC News reporter: twitter link, thread reader. Also, a reminder that literally every...
    • Exemplary

    If anyone wants a good rundown on KF and what's going on with them currently, here's a good summary from an NBC News reporter: twitter link, thread reader.

    Also, a reminder that literally every time they come up in discussions, whole swaths of people all over the internet go into extreme minimization mode, making the forum sound like it's just any other forum and that its users are principled and thoughtful, and they're just a small corner of harmless, rambunctious trolls -- the little scamps!

    It's all garbage and completely far from the truth -- much of it is outright lies, though if you try to say that people will then try to waste your time getting you to prove it while rejecting any and all evidence you provide. They are extremely malicious, extremely invasive, and extremely harmful. Also, you don't see much of the other side because the site has a "Voldemort"-like quality where people -- especially queer people -- are afraid to even say its name and make themselves a target.

    I know, for a fact, that we have users here on Tildes who are afraid to post about their lives because of that site specifically.

    When their actions silence people at scale, even off of their site, they are not the bastions of "free speech" that so many on the internet try to make them out to be. They always get framed this way after they're caught doing absolutely abhorrent things, and it's a way of trying to launder their toxic harassment into something that makes it look like a noble pursuit. Furthermore, they know that the internet is largely sympathetic to people who face restrictions on their free speech, so they rely on people rallying around that idea whenever their completely inexcusable actions surface once again on the wider internet.

    I understand that the lines regarding speech and infrastructure and all that are messy. That is a large and valuable conversation to have. I'll also be presumptuous enough to say that I don't think it's particularly salient here. What I encourage people here and anywhere to see is that, if you are a human being with a conscience -- especially one who cares about people who are atypical in some way, especially people who are queer and neurodivergent -- then a site like KF does not exist within the gray area around those lines. It is so far over every line, in a place of extreme darkness, where light does not shine.

    The author of the Cloudflare post calls the site a "hard case" and says that "hard cases make bad law". I agree with him. KF would like you to see their actions as linked to yours -- that if they could be silenced, you could too! They want to reduce the distance between themselves and the rest of us when it suits them -- when they need us for their protection. They want you to think that they're near the line, so calling the shot on them might change its contour.

    This is not the case. They are not in a gray area. Supporting the idea of them, even in the abstract, requires us to believe that people deserve to be subjected to anonymous, persistent, mob-based stalking and harassment that goes on for years or even decades. It means that we accept that entire communities of people should have to be afraid when they are online -- afraid to share even the most simple and rudimentary things about their lives and experiences -- because that might be cataloged and used against them.

    The site used hotel bed sheets to locate their most recent harassment victim to continue to harass her after she had fled her home for safety.

    This was after they swatted her.

    She later fled the country completely. The site found where she had gone within days. One user posted a picture standing outside where she was staying.

    All of this, and they want us to think that we and they are the ones under attack.

    It's a lie. There is no gray area here. What they do is indefensible.

    I don't know the correct solution. I do know that, whether the solution to this lies in law or Cloudflare is less important to me than the idea that anything we pursue should be as immediate as possible. The fact that the site has been allowed to go on as long as it has is unconscionable.

    28 votes
    1. [2]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Sorry, kind of going on a tangent here. How do you track someone using hotel bed sheets?

      The site used hotel bed sheets to locate their most recent harassment victim

      Sorry, kind of going on a tangent here. How do you track someone using hotel bed sheets?

      5 votes
      1. unknown user
        Link Parent
        I'm not keen on sharing doxxing methodology online, but you're someone that I trust won't use it for evil. I'll PM you.

        I'm not keen on sharing doxxing methodology online, but you're someone that I trust won't use it for evil.

        I'll PM you.

        4 votes
  2. [20]
    JXM
    Link
    I’m glad they’re doing this. While I understand their position, I disagree with it. Just because they are “an Internet infrastructure provider”, that doesn’t absolve them from helping to spread...

    I’m glad they’re doing this.

    While I understand their position, I disagree with it. Just because they are “an Internet infrastructure provider”, that doesn’t absolve them from helping to spread the nastiness that is Kiwifarms. If I was the person running Cloudflare, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for spreading hate and potentially being responsible for ruining victims lives.

    I also see the slippery slope argument but Kiwifamrs can, as Cloudflare pointed out in their post, just find another provider. If someone else wants to take on the moral burden of knowing they are helping to spread hate and maybe even get someone killed, they can bare it instead.

    17 votes
    1. [19]
      Adys
      Link Parent
      I'll copy my comment from HN:

      I'll copy my comment from HN:

      "Neutral", maybe, but their stance goes beyond neutral. They clearly position themselves as "infrastructure". HNers should appreciate this more, as it's often a recurring theme here to talk about ISPs as infrastructure.
      Infrastructure doesn't privately discriminate, period. Water/Electricity utilities don't cut the supply to rapists and terrorists just because they're rapists and terrorists. They cut it when law enforcement ask them to.

      This conflicting discussion is better had on this level: "Should Cloudflare be considered infrastructure, or not?". It's not straightforward.

      15 votes
      1. JXM
        Link Parent
        I would say it isn’t part of the infrastructure. To use your power company metaphor: Cloudflare is more like a generator than a utility. If a hurricane (DDoS attack) comes through and you lose...

        I would say it isn’t part of the infrastructure.

        To use your power company metaphor: Cloudflare is more like a generator than a utility.

        If a hurricane (DDoS attack) comes through and you lose power, a generator can keep you online until they restore power. It’s a “nice to have” but not something the power company is required to give you.

        7 votes
      2. [8]
        rkcr
        Link Parent
        Since KF can be hosted elsewhere, wouldn't that mean Cloudflare isn't core infrastructure?

        Since KF can be hosted elsewhere, wouldn't that mean Cloudflare isn't core infrastructure?

        6 votes
        1. [7]
          Adys
          Link Parent
          Cloudflare is core infrastructure, just not necessarily for hosting specifically. Also in the case of KF, I don’t believe CF was the host at all, they were just a pipe. CF is rarely a host.

          Cloudflare is core infrastructure, just not necessarily for hosting specifically.

          Also in the case of KF, I don’t believe CF was the host at all, they were just a pipe. CF is rarely a host.

          2 votes
          1. [6]
            mtset
            Link Parent
            This is factually incorrect; CF hosted and served several KF error pages which made snide references to the high suicide rate of transgender people. Edit: I'm also not sure what you mean by "core...

            This is factually incorrect; CF hosted and served several KF error pages which made snide references to the high suicide rate of transgender people.

            Edit: I'm also not sure what you mean by "core infrastructure," here. Is Akami, Fastly, etc also core infrastructure? Is my personal CDN? Is there a threshold?

            7 votes
            1. [5]
              Adys
              Link Parent
              Fair. Cloudflare does a lot more than CDN stuff. You could ask the same of AWS and Google. There probably is a threshold, and it probably isn't a clear "you must be at least this tall to be core...

              CF hosted and served several KF error pages

              Fair.

              I'm also not sure what you mean by "core infrastructure," here. Is Akami, Fastly, etc also core infrastructure? Is my personal CDN? Is there a threshold?

              Cloudflare does a lot more than CDN stuff. You could ask the same of AWS and Google. There probably is a threshold, and it probably isn't a clear "you must be at least this tall to be core infrastructure" line, but the point is they serve half the internet.

              FWIW I would also call Akamai critical infra because they're so omnipresent, but even they don't have their fingers in as much of the internet as CF does.

              2 votes
              1. [3]
                rkcr
                Link Parent
                I don't think of any of those as core infrastructure. They are often used, but that doesn't mean they are necessary, for a website. If you think of a website like a house, I think of...

                I don't think of any of those as core infrastructure. They are often used, but that doesn't mean they are necessary, for a website.

                If you think of a website like a house, I think of Akamai/CF/AWS/etc. as the building materials. They are the plumbing and the wiring, but not the actual water and electricity. Yes, utilities have to hook up to your house - but contractors are not legally obligated to build or fix your house. If I'm an electrician and I find out you're making meth in the house, I can refuse to fix your wiring without needing the police to get involved.

                3 votes
                1. Adys
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  People underestimate how core to the internet Cloudflare has become. They have their fingers everywhere. It's not just about their CDN/DDOS protection. Will elaborate when I have more time.

                  People underestimate how core to the internet Cloudflare has become. They have their fingers everywhere. It's not just about their CDN/DDOS protection. Will elaborate when I have more time.

                  3 votes
                2. mtset
                  Link Parent
                  This is a really good analogy.

                  This is a really good analogy.

                  1 vote
              2. mtset
                Link Parent
                I mean, Google Analytics is part of a huge percentage of websites; that doesn't mean they are "core infrastructure". If anything, the most "core" part of CF's business is it's DNS offering, which...

                I mean, Google Analytics is part of a huge percentage of websites; that doesn't mean they are "core infrastructure".

                If anything, the most "core" part of CF's business is it's DNS offering, which is not "just a pipe" at all.

                2 votes
      3. [9]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        I don't mean to demean your opinion here, but I don't think that that's a useful distinction. It reminds me of those "is Facebook/Twitter/etc. a platform or a publisher?" arguments. It doesn't...

        I don't mean to demean your opinion here, but I don't think that that's a useful distinction. It reminds me of those "is Facebook/Twitter/etc. a platform or a publisher?" arguments. It doesn't really matter what answer ou eventually arrive at; at the end of the day they're using their power to support and empower shitty people to spread hate.

        5 votes
        1. [6]
          Adys
          Link Parent
          Of course it matters! "Empowering shitty people" isn't the only thing they do. It comes down to this: Not everybody should be served by Cloudflare. Who gets to decide on who gets cut off? Why?...

          Of course it matters! "Empowering shitty people" isn't the only thing they do.

          It comes down to this: Not everybody should be served by Cloudflare. Who gets to decide on who gets cut off? Why?

          Cloudflare, in many ways, is serving as a test bed for questions that companies such as, for example, Google, should REALLY REALLY REALLY be asking.

          "Who gets to have a Google account? Who gets banned?"

          What is the danger of a false positive? Just days ago we had a frontpage news story about a guy who had nudes of his toddler in Google Photos, and despite law enforcement clearing the guy, Google refused to reinstate his account.

          This is an example of what can happen when companies don't leave those decisions up to law enforcement. Now for small companies this doesn't usually matter, but losing Google's services is often more impactful than losing a bank's services, and those are way more regulated because of how impactful it is!

          How this relates to Cloudflare: They are positioning themselves as an essential part of internet infrastructure. I don't fucking want an american company that is becoming so entrenched with the Internet, to be one that doesn't take the impact of these decisions seriously. And I admire how much thought they put into each and every one of their decisions.

          Disclaimer #1: Investor in cloudflare. Disclaimer #2: I wanted them to block kiwifarms.

          20 votes
          1. [5]
            Akir
            Link Parent
            I don't say this as a means to offend you, but this kind of thinking is exactly why I don't read through Hacker News; it's too full of techbros who think that private companies are the be-all and...

            I don't say this as a means to offend you, but this kind of thinking is exactly why I don't read through Hacker News; it's too full of techbros who think that private companies are the be-all and end-all of public utility and that everyone should have access as a human right.

            With very few specific exemptions, you do not have the right to force people or corporations to provide you services. Every single one of these businesses can and should have the right to refuse to do business with whomever they want for whatever reason they want.

            The hard truth of the matter is that none of these platforms or service providers are monopolies (at least in the specific domains we are talking about) and if they really are the solution is not to make sure that everyone can access them, the solution is to decimate them and let other companies take their place.

            The reason why I hate these kinds of arguments is because for the most part they only seem to exist for the sake of allowing the Kiwi Farms, Donald Trumps, and Nazis an elevated platform for everyone to see. There's no sane world where that is a human right. That is something that we as a society should be doing our best to prevent from happening to begin with. And just in case you think that it's unfair that these companies be given a unilateral right to remove these people from their platforms, keep in mind that it's their money that is being used to spread their hateful messages. They are the party which has the greatest moral imperative to remove them.

            11 votes
            1. [2]
              Adys
              Link Parent
              You should know better in my case, right? There’s plenty of people arguing the way you describe but it’s not an absolute. i would wager it’s probably not a majority either; furthermore I can...

              The reason why I hate these kinds of arguments is because for the most part they only seem to exist for the sake of allowing …

              You should know better in my case, right?

              There’s plenty of people arguing the way you describe but it’s not an absolute. i would wager it’s probably not a majority either; furthermore I can pretty much guarantee you nobody in charge of these decisions at cloudflare is pro-kiwifarms or pro whatever it is they’re (not) blocking.

              Put it this way: I think the actions of Google are gross and have severely damaged the lives of many people just because they don’t put the care cloudflare does into their decisions.

              Again, I’m in favour of blocking kiwi farms, but I also want cloudflare to not take that decision lightly (which they clearly haven’t) because of the potential of how bad things can be if they give themselves TOO much freedom.

              Life is nuance.

              11 votes
              1. Akir
                Link Parent
                Oh absolutely! I've seen enough of you to know better, and I honestly doubt that anyone on Tildes would argue that way. (To tell the truth I did overreact at first; if you happened to have come...

                You should know better in my case, right?

                Oh absolutely! I've seen enough of you to know better, and I honestly doubt that anyone on Tildes would argue that way.

                (To tell the truth I did overreact at first; if you happened to have come across the first version of my comment that I deleted seconds after I posted it, you have my apologies)

                When I was talking about breaking up companies who were too big, honestly, Google was exactly the company I had in mind. They are currently number one on my list of Evil Tech Companies. As much as I hate Facebook, at least Meta made an effort to put some distance between their products when they rebranded.

                4 votes
            2. [2]
              Protected
              Link Parent
              I'm not sure I understand your position regarding private companies - Are you sure it's wise to have such an uncompromising view of the independence of private businesses? Doesn't this open the...

              I'm not sure I understand your position regarding private companies - Are you sure it's wise to have such an uncompromising view of the independence of private businesses? Doesn't this open the doors for all kinds of abuse? Would you feel comfortable if Cloudflare was refusing service on the basis of me not being straight? What if they demanded you participate in a specific tax evasion scheme? All manner of intervention and restrictions on private business are the norm in most democracies. Can the free market truly be trusted to balance things out if we stick to such an extreme position as "businesses can and should have the right to refuse to do business with whomever they want for whatever reason they want"?

              I'm not trying to be deliberately obtuse here, it's just that your argument feels equally simplistic to me. A quick search yields information pointing toward Cloudflare being extremely dominant in their market segment (at least as of 2021). Maybe they are "Not Yet A Monopoly," but from what I'm aware there simply isn't any comparable service with a free tier capable of providing an effective layer of protection for large websites. With Cloudflare becoming so ubiquitous, it becomes the de facto solution for mitigating large scale attacks, and being excluded from it makes it extremely financially risky to operate a large service online (this is the playbook of every anticompetitive company ever - overwhelm everybody else and muscle them out).

              This is a common problem with large technology companies. They are inserting themselves into our lives to a degree incomparable with that of businesses in other markets, and which makes me very uncomfortable given precisely the status quo by which they are allowed to do whatever they want and treat people however they want. Can a typical business survive being excluded from the online space in 2022? Can an individual? What about a political affiliation? We know for a fact that in certain democratic countries the mass media have been used as a powerful tool for eroding that same democracy, because they are owned by biased, partisan people with an agenda that more often than not doesn't align with the best interests of the citizens of those countries. I'm not going to name any Rupert Murdo-- oops too late ;) In countries with no real democracy, the local strongperson is quick to impose censorship and severely restrict internet access. Why? I believe a free and neutral internet can be a good thing. It allows ideals of tolerance, equality, even kindness to blossom in a way that may not always be possible or visible to the masses otherwise - in a way that doesn't require the permission of any media mogul. It's not about allowing the nazis to nazi things up, but about preserving an ideological escape hatch for the increasingly rigid and radicalized outside world. When certain tech companies are placing themselves in a position of absolute control over the internet - even if only as a group - then the internet becomes just as vulnerable as traditional media.

              I'm not necessarily advocating for nationalizing these companies or anything like that. But I believe governments have a duty to assign responsability to private businesses in direct proportion with their involvement in people's lives and their potential impact on freedom and democracy. I believe Adys feels the same, but I wanted to try to put this into concrete words.

              All this being said, in the state where we are right now and given the stated failure of the US government to do their job on multiple levels, I'm wholly behind Cloudflare's decision. Right now, it seems like it's up to them, and as there is absolutely no requirement for them to provide service to the aforementioned website... I don't see how they could morally have done anything else.

              4 votes
              1. Akir
                Link Parent
                We must have been writing at the same time because i just addressed this question elsewhere in this topic. But yes, I agree with you that one of the biggest problems with this position is the...

                We must have been writing at the same time because i just addressed this question elsewhere in this topic.

                But yes, I agree with you that one of the biggest problems with this position is the refusal of government to take action when businesses leverage their power unfairly. I brought up breaking apart companies with monopolies, but that isn’t the only kind of regulation I would expect from the government.

                2 votes
        2. [2]
          Adys
          Link Parent
          PS: What I'm reading in their announcement is a clear indictement of US law enforcement: Cloudflare repeatedly stressed the kiwifarms problem to them, but law enforcement did not act. And knowing...

          PS: What I'm reading in their announcement is a clear indictement of US law enforcement: Cloudflare repeatedly stressed the kiwifarms problem to them, but law enforcement did not act. And knowing Matt Prince & co, I find it way more likely the alt-right-types "using their power to support & empower shitty people" are in law enforcement rather than at cloudflare.

          Edit -- As I post this, I just noticed Matt Prince's post, which backs what I just wrote:

          Reading over the comments I see everyone thinking this is about “free speech.” It is not. It’s about what in the US you’d call “due process” and in all the rest of the world you’d call “rule of law.”
          Our decision today was that the risk created by the content could not be dealt with in a timely enough matter by the traditional rule of law systems.

          That’s a failure of the rule of law on two dimensions: we shouldn’t be the ones making that call, and no one else who should was stepping up in spite of being aware of the threat.

          Encourage you when these issues arise to think of them in the rule of law context, rather than free speech, in order to have a more robust conversation with frameworks that have an appeal and applicability across nearly every nation and government.

          8 votes
          1. vektor
            Link Parent
            That quote is exactly where the problem lies. We have laws against certain kinds of behaviors, and from what I can tell those laws in most developed nations would like to have a word with what...

            That quote is exactly where the problem lies.

            We have laws against certain kinds of behaviors, and from what I can tell those laws in most developed nations would like to have a word with what goes on at KF. But... if those laws aren't enforced, that's really not good. I appreciate CF making this call, but I hate our laws and LE for forcing them to.

            It doesn't help that contractual relationships online are horribly underregulated: CF is, at least in the short term, for an existing relationship with CF, essential to the functioning of your online presence, as I understand it. If they boot you out, your site is now down. Yet in most cases of online services, they reserve the right to terminate you without notice or recourse. Powers like that are unthinkable in real world utilities. Contract terms like that are arguably outright illegal in many jurisdictions. Yet we continue to operate like that.

            The actual solution here is to start enforcing our damn laws online. Sure, within reason, not everything that is technically against the law needs to be prosecuted to the fullest. But if we don't enforce laws in egregious cases like this, why bother having them? Then, CF pulling the plug on KF happens at a judge's orders. And then we can and should start treating essential online infrastructure as infrastructure. ISPs first and foremost, but imo also CF. It's entirely unthinkable that real world infrastructure companies start enforcing laws in LE's stead. My landlord won't kick me out because he believes I'm a criminal; he'll tell the police, and that's the way that's supposed to be handled.

            As a pet issue of mine, also start enforcing the existing legal limits on contract terms. Maybe the govt could hire a lawyer who goes through the list of most-used EULAs, subscriber agreements, user agreements, etc, and starts fining them for violations. Knowing what a contract or a law means (in this case after stripping away the illegal) is imo an essential part of the rule of law. These terms illegally give big tech companies even more power than they already have, and it's one of the tools to rein in their out of control power. For example, google then couldn't cancel my service for any reason anymore, but they instead must enumerate the offending behaviors. In the case of criminal matters, they would be obliged to follow the decisions of the legal system. Of course, a necessary condition for this to work is that LE actually enforces the law to a satisfactory degree.

            Oh, and it also doesn't help that this is a highly international issue. Often perpetrator and victim are in different countries when the crime occurs, and often the perpetrator's jurisdiction has little inherent interest in fixing the issue. But there's not really a simple solution to this, to the extent that it isn't fixed by the above points.

            4 votes
  3. [2]
    psi
    Link
    I was going to respond to @Akir, but I figured this response is long enough that it should be its own top-level comment. I know this is a common justification for banning speech -- "the first...

    I was going to respond to @Akir, but I figured this response is long enough that it should be its own top-level comment.

    With very few specific exemptions, you do not have the right to force people or corporations to provide you services. Every single one of these businesses can and should have the right to refuse to do business with whomever they want for whatever reason they want.

    I know this is a common justification for banning speech -- "the first amendment doesn't apply to private platforms," said somebody somewhere, probably -- but I don't think it's a very good justification. In my mind, it reads similarly to xkcd's comic on free speech. It's technically something a business is legally permitted to do, but that's hardly a moral justification.

    So let me give some examples where I think a business banning someone would be problematic.

    A spiteful CEO

    Suppose Disney hires a new CEO, and as a hiring condition he requires Disney ban from their parks a few people that he dislikes for personal (not political) reasons. For good measure (just to be extra spiteful), he bans their families, too.

    • The stakes here are relatively low, but the rule doesn't feel fair; in fact, it's arbitrary. Even though Disney has the right to deny entrance to anyone it would like, invoking that right is not a sufficient justification. There also needs to be a reasonable explanation.
    • But I also wouldn't want to extrapolate this thought experiment to small businesses. The reason this particular situation feels unfair is because the CEO is so far removed from park operations that his enemy's presence could hardly affect his well-being. But if Alice and Bob have a nasty divorce, maybe Alice is justified if she wants to ban Bob and Charlie from bringing their new family to Alice's diner.

    2. The Google CSAM debacle

    (As mentioned by @Adys and reported by the New York Times). For those who aren't familiar, Google banned a user from its services after it found two pieces of media it suspected of being CSAM. In fact, one was a picture of a rash on his son's genitalia taken per the request of his doctor, and the other was an "intimate" moment of his wife and son sleeping, in which they both happened to be nude. The police investigated both cases after being informed by Google, with investigators ultimately concluding that nothing criminal had occurred. Indeed, the police were willing to return all of the user's Google data (including the suspected media). Nevertheless, Google refused to reinstate the account.

    • Again, we see that Google has the right to ban this user; however, having the right to do something is not equivalent to having the moral high ground. In this case, the stakes are relatively high. If I were banned from Disney, I'd be annoyed, but I could basically go about my life completely unfazed. On the other hand, if my Google account were deleted, I would almost immediately feel the consequences.
    • There's a pretty obvious takeaway here: if the stakes are higher, the justification needs to be better.

    3. Discrimination by race

    Finally, I should mention the obvious: discrimination by race, gender, or another protected class is wrong. We are fortunate that the law forbids businesses from discriminating in this manner, but we should be cognizant of the fact that this is a relatively new legal invention.

    • But critically, we see that the right for a business to discriminate is not absolute. We all agree that there exists a line somewhere; the problem is drawing the line.

    So when is discrimination okay?

    I hope I've demonstrated that the right for a business to demonstrate is not by itself a good justification for discriminating. We also expect the explanation to be (1) fair and (2) proportionate.

    For example, if Peter Thiel were to buy Twitter tomorrow, we would be rightly horrified if he reinstated Trump's account and banned all of his critics. Clearly, that is not fair -- there exist an implied social contract that Twitter should be content neutral insofar that the content is not harmful per its own predetermined definitions, which we should a priori know. In fact, this is what made Twitter's tolerance of Trump so egregious -- Trump was given additional privileges not afforded to everyone else. If he hadn't been afforded those additional privileges, he would've been banned from the platform much sooner, not after inciting an insurrection during his lame duck period.

    Finally, we turn to the topic at hand: is Cloudflare justified in banning Kiwi Farms? The answer is, in my opinion, a resounding yes: Cloudfare has a service exception for harmful speech. The rule does not pretextually serve to specifically target Kiwi Farms. Rather, it discriminates against the kind of behavior that all of us (sans Kiwi Farms) find abhorrent. Finally, the consequences are not disproportionate: the "right" to harass someone is questionable at best, and at any rate the Kiwi Farms platform is still available, even if it might now experience temporary service disruptions.

    9 votes
    1. Akir
      Link Parent
      Regarding a business’s right to discriminate, I do feel like there should be a higher standard, but I don’t think there is sufficient evidence to support that idea. That being said, there is a...

      Regarding a business’s right to discriminate, I do feel like there should be a higher standard, but I don’t think there is sufficient evidence to support that idea.

      That being said, there is a higher standard that has been put in place in all of these situations that I am aware of, and that is the case of having a terms of use agreement. If a user breaks it then they can get banned. Sure they technically are arbitrary and are by definition there to protect the business, but it also provides a standard of conduct that people can follow to avoid a banning.

      But I would like to reiterate that if a banning from a particular service actually does create major issues in a person’s life, that is a sign that they need to be broken up. Google is the absolute worst when it comes to just about every tangential issue. Their moderation is aparantly being done by low quality AI these days, and if they are mistaken you will be almost certainly unable to talk to someone to get the mistake fixed. And they have their fingers in so many pies losing your account affects so many different aspects of your life. Especially considering that Google may also be your ISP, cable company, cell phone provider, email service, backup provider, and the list goes on and on. This is why we need to break them up.

      5 votes
  4. [15]
    skybrian
    Link
    One thing to keep in mind about Cloudflare is that while they may provide DDOS protection for some 30% of the Internet, they are certainly not monitoring 30% of the Internet for arbitrary bad...

    One thing to keep in mind about Cloudflare is that while they may provide DDOS protection for some 30% of the Internet, they are certainly not monitoring 30% of the Internet for arbitrary bad behavior. This is mostly a free, automated service. For any business they decide to look into, they're probably going to have to investigate from scratch.

    An alternative would be to only investigate only when there are complaints, but for a global service, complaints could come from anyone, anywhere. It would be easy to DDOS their investigative capabilities.

    Any organization in charge of investigating complaints is going to want to reduce scope so as not to be overwhelmed. One way to do that is to declare things outside your jurisdiction. (A local police force isn't going to investigate things that aren't geographically related.) These aren't morally justifiable boundaries - a crime is no less terrible if it happens in the other side of a line on the map. But it's a practical decision. I see Cloudflare as wanting to reduce the scope of its decision-making in a similar way.

    Another ways of reducing scope is to specialize in certain crimes. (Not everything is an FBI matter.) Also, enforcement agencies can simply make their own decisions about which investigations they want to pursue.

    If we require companies to have an investigative capacity to meaningfully police their customers in a way that's at least somewhat fair, and don't allow them to reduce scope, then that means they'll have to charge more (the end of free service) and/or reduce their customer base (also the end of free service).

    And maybe you don't care about Cloudflare, but this also applies to other fully-automated services like LetsEncrypt. They provide certificates to everyone, so hypothetically maybe they should be policing the entire Internet too, because they have somewhat of a relationship with anyone they provide a certificate to?

    Or alternatively, you could say that organizations only need to react when there's a large, sustained Internet campaign to cancel some particularly bad offender. This is effectively what we're getting.

    I suppose making companies the enforcement arm of online pressure campaigns against bad actors sort of resembles democracy, if you squint?

    6 votes
    1. [14]
      mtset
      Link Parent
      Is it possible that we can disagree about precisely where the line is, but agree that a harassment-focused forum designed to stalk queer and mentally ill people run by a Nazi-aligned, child...

      Is it possible that we can disagree about precisely where the line is, but agree that a harassment-focused forum designed to stalk queer and mentally ill people run by a Nazi-aligned, child porn-distributing man who has repeatedly made it clear that he's not interested in preventing violence on his site, is on the wrong side of it?

      This is not a slippery slope. Cloudflare has always used it's discretion in who it does business with. For instance, it dropped switter without so much as a single negative comment. All folks were asking is that they use that discretion in this case as well.

      The comparison to LE is... Suspect, to say the least. Among other things, LE actually does occasionally revoke certificates, but it also has much less of a relationship with any given user; where Cloudflare actively provides hosting and transit for every web request, LE just gives you some numbers you plug into your webserver. I know you know this.

      7 votes
      1. [6]
        Adys
        Link Parent
        Matt Prince commented on this: Whether that's the full story or not is unclear, but I find it incredibly unlikely that CF dropped Switter "just fuckin' because", when the CEO's out there...

        For instance, it dropped switter without so much as a single negative comment.

        Matt Prince commented on this:

        Because we’re a U.S.-based company subject to SESTA and the one site in question we took down affirmatively told us they were violating SESTA. SESTA is a very bad law. But, if you’re violating it, don’t wave that fact in the face of your infrastructure providers who are liable under the law for providing service to you. We continue to work to overturn or repeal SESTA.

        Whether that's the full story or not is unclear, but I find it incredibly unlikely that CF dropped Switter "just fuckin' because", when the CEO's out there denouncing the shitty laws that are pushing them to do exactly that.

        I follow Cloudflare happenings very closely, and I see a lot of people claiming cloudflare applied rules differently "plenty of times". And without fail, those "plenty of times" are one of exactly three instances: The Daily Stormer, Switter, and 8chan.

        They make so few exceptions to their rule that Prince has publicly commented on every single one of those; it's IMO extremely out there to claim they're "using discretion".

        7 votes
        1. [5]
          mtset
          Link Parent
          This is a double standard. No law enforcement agency approached them to take down Switter, but they took it down anyway. Then they use the excuse that law enforcement hasn't come to them about...

          I find it incredibly unlikely that CF dropped Switter "just fuckin' because", when the CEO's out there denouncing the shitty laws that are pushing them to do exactly that.

          This is a double standard. No law enforcement agency approached them to take down Switter, but they took it down anyway. Then they use the excuse that law enforcement hasn't come to them about KiwiFarms for why they didn't want to take it down, even though it arguably violates far more than one law.

          They dropped Switter because it might have exposed them to some liability at some point, and because they don't like sex workers. KiwiFarms absolutely exposed them to some liability too, but they do like people who harass minorities, so they were willing to take that liability until Keffals, Liz, &co. increased it.

          2 votes
          1. [4]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            Again, knowing Matt Prince, knowing several people who work at cloudflare, and knowing how these sorts of companies work, this idea that they just don’t like sex workers is super off base, but...

            Again, knowing Matt Prince, knowing several people who work at cloudflare, and knowing how these sorts of companies work, this idea that they just don’t like sex workers is super off base, but it’s 6am and I am frankly too tired to argue.
            I mean … Do you really think these people are conspiring against sex workers because they’re not only sex-puritans, but also such big alt right fans that they wouldn’t dare touch KF?

            Really.. I’m so tired of people talking about these actions from such preposterous angles. I wish we could have proper conversations about the actual root problems leading to these situations, instead of wasting time on debunking nonsense.

            Sorry, I’m exhausted and having a not-super day, I hope I don’t seem like I’m taking it out on you. Just, please, give them some credit …

            10 votes
            1. [3]
              mtset
              Link Parent
              I understand where you're coming from, I really do. Let me ask you to understand where I'm coming from: having watched multiple people I care about essentially abandon their public lives, both...

              I understand where you're coming from, I really do. Let me ask you to understand where I'm coming from: having watched multiple people I care about essentially abandon their public lives, both online and off, to escape that site; having, myself, undergone significant harassment coordinated on that site; and currently working for a company that handles precisely - precisely - these same issues in a much more ethical and effective manner with no negative impact on our business.

              I am not speaking hypothetically. I am not being "preposterous". I have first-hand experience of this precise issue on all fronts.

              To address your specific points:

              Do you really think these people are ... such big alt right fans that they wouldn’t dare touch KF?

              Yes. Matt Prince has, among other things, expressed his support for a "great replacement"-style neo-Malthusian conspiracy theory on Twitter. This is fascist rhetoric, and that is in no way an exaggeration.

              Do you really think these people are conspiring against sex workers

              I already addressed this: they have applied a double standard when comparing these cases. I'm not sure what other explanation you'd put forth for this.

              Just, please, give them some credit …

              I give them plenty of credit. People who work at Cloudflare have made huge contributions to the Rust language, whose community I am deeply involved in. I respect those people a lot. I wish I could think anything but negatively of the leadership of the company, but I can't, again based on their concrete actions and statements.

              I'd ask you to give some credit to the people with actual experience in this area.

              6 votes
              1. vektor
                Link Parent
                Just to make sure we're on the same page here: You're talking about MP retweeting Elon Musk's shitty take on existential risks? If so, a deliberately generous reading of that is the following:...

                Yes. Matt Prince has, among other things, expressed his support for a "great replacement"-style neo-Malthusian conspiracy theory on Twitter. This is fascist rhetoric, and that is in no way an exaggeration.

                Just to make sure we're on the same page here: You're talking about MP retweeting Elon Musk's shitty take on existential risks?

                If so, a deliberately generous reading of that is the following: (and I would agree that Musk is shittier than this generous take, but I'm not convinced about MP; I barely know the guy.) - The connection to Great Replacement isn't necessarily clear; if you project the trend we've seen in the developed world onto the developing world, population will peak and then drop. Developing nations are currently managing to prop up their aging population with immigration from poorer countries, but that will find an end when there is no longer a bottomless supply of young, hard-working people from poor countries to poach. While this effect will take decades and decades to manifest, I'm not sure it's not an existential risk to humanity. I can be entirely at peace with the future being non-white, and see an existential risk for other reasons.

                To rank it a higher risk than climate change is ballsy, but in the right frame of reference I can vaguely see that.

                cc @Adys

                5 votes
              2. Adys
                Link Parent
                Fully understand. I don't dismiss that. But it has IMO little impact on how well you can understand the legal reasoning behind a business decision. Moral, sure; legal, no. I was unaware of this...

                Let me ask you to understand where I'm coming from

                Fully understand. I don't dismiss that. But it has IMO little impact on how well you can understand the legal reasoning behind a business decision. Moral, sure; legal, no.

                Matt Prince has, among other things, expressed his support for a "great replacement"-style neo-Malthusian conspiracy theory on Twitter.

                I was unaware of this and would like more details please.

                3 votes
      2. [7]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        I’m going to have to plead “no contest” because I haven’t investigated or read about Kiwifarms in any detail, and I don’t plan to do enough reading to form an independent opinion, because it all...

        I’m going to have to plead “no contest” because I haven’t investigated or read about Kiwifarms in any detail, and I don’t plan to do enough reading to form an independent opinion, because it all sounds extremely unpleasant, and it’s not up to me to make any decisions about them so I don’t need to. Given that many people seem to be reluctant to even mention them by name, let’s just assume they’re as bad as you say.

        And I think that might be why a lot of the discussion is about policy? Much of Cloudflare’s post is about policy (and all of their previous post) and that part is less unpleasant to discuss. Presumably it’s worth discussing because this isn’t the only terrible site out there?

        (I don’t know anything about the switter case either.)

        1 vote
        1. [6]
          unknown user
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Oh, it's much much worse than I think you imagine. So much so that I find myself feeling extreeeeeemely reluctant to throw my 2c in, even to discuss it from a purely policy angle... and was even...

          Oh, it's much much worse than I think you imagine. So much so that I find myself feeling extreeeeeemely reluctant to throw my 2c in, even to discuss it from a purely policy angle... and was even seriously considering signing up for a throwaway account before making this comment. And the bravery being shown by others here who have decided to share their opinions about the site and speak up in support this action by CF, while inspiring and admirable, still has me genuinely worried about the potential repercussions for them in doing so, even with the small size of Tildes, and KF now having been (at least temporarily) taken offline.

          And topics like this are one of the major reasons I think we really really need to seriously consider pushing harder for implementation of the anonymous posting feature. Speaking of which, @Deimos, as it stands can you at least do that on a per request basis? Since I suspect some of the people in this topic (including myself) would prefer not to have their usernames permanently attached to their comments here.

          p.s. Also, @Deimos, as an FYI, this topic has already been cached by Google. Thankfully it happened early so there were only 2 comments at the time, but you still might want to consider requesting that cache be removed: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9689846?hl=en

          6 votes
          1. [5]
            unknown user
            Link Parent
            I had considered messaging @Deimos and asking him if he could remove my username from my post here, so I’m glad you brought this up. If that’s an option I’d like to take advantage of it.

            I had considered messaging @Deimos and asking him if he could remove my username from my post here, so I’m glad you brought this up.

            If that’s an option I’d like to take advantage of it.

            7 votes
            1. [2]
              Deimos
              Link Parent
              Done for all of your comments in this thread (please don't reply back to this comment, since that would reveal your username again). If anyone else wants that, please message me to ask, but keep...

              Done for all of your comments in this thread (please don't reply back to this comment, since that would reveal your username again).

              If anyone else wants that, please message me to ask, but keep in mind that it will mean you "lose control" of the comments and will be unable to edit or delete them any more.

              5 votes
              1. vektor
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                Also a PSA to everyone not to @-mention anyone who's requested to have their name purged. I have scanned the thread and haven't seen any mentions of these two. I thought there was another issue...

                Also a PSA to everyone not to @-mention anyone who's requested to have their name purged. I have scanned the thread and haven't seen any mentions of these two.

                I thought there was another issue but either it's been edited out or I can't find it. I'll check with the relevant user. (Edit: All clear)

                3 votes
            2. [2]
              vektor
              Link Parent
              Oooookay, now you guys got me properly scared. Holy shit.

              Oooookay, now you guys got me properly scared. Holy shit.

              3 votes
              1. unknown user
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                We all should be, and IMO should all be fucking grateful for CF's actions here too. KF is a community full of legit psychopaths who not only revel in completely destroying people's lives, and...

                We all should be, and IMO should all be fucking grateful for CF's actions here too. KF is a community full of legit psychopaths who not only revel in completely destroying people's lives, and driving them to suicide, but unfortunately also have the skills required to accomplish that... even if those people flee their home countries or try to go off-grid. Imagine Bellingcat, but if they were instead committed to relentlessly perpetuating pure evil. I'm not exaggerating.

                4 votes