Cloudflare said on Wednesday it was unlikely to end services for controversial customers in the future, following online protests demanding the company stop providing services to a site linked to the cloud. hatred and harassment.
One of Cloudflare’s popular security services is DDoS protection, which blocks attempts to flood a website with traffic in order to take it offline. Without Cloudflare’s service, it’s unlikely that Kiwi Farms — a site with a long history of harassment that has been accused of multiple suicides — would be able to stay online.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince and Alissa Starzak, vice president and global head of public policy, said the company’s leadership concluded that “the power to put end to security services for [controversial] sites was not a power that Cloudflare should have.”
“Just as the telephone company does not terminate your line if you say horrible, racist or bigoted things, we have concluded, in consultation with politicians, policymakers and experts, that deactivating security services because we think what you are posting is despicable is the wrong policy,” Cloudflare executives said in the post.
Executives said Cloudflare had previously cut service to sites over “objectionable” content on two separate occasions – neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer in 2017 and 8chan, a forum linked to hate crimes and conspiracy theories, in 2019.
“To be clear, just because we’ve done it a limited number of times before doesn’t mean we were right when we did it. Or that we will do it again,” Prince and Starzak said in the post.
Repeatedly in the message, executives said the termination of service on these sites set a “dangerous precedent”.
Noting that more than 20% of websites currently use Cloudflare, “when reviewing our policies, we need to be mindful of the impact we are having and the precedent we are setting for the internet as a whole,” the CEOs said. leaders. “Terminating security services for content that our team personally deems disgusting and immoral would be the popular choice. But, in the long run, such choices make it more difficult to protect content that supports oppressed and marginalized voices from attack.”
Online protests against Cloudflare have escalated in recent weeks after transgender activist and Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti was forced into hiding by an organized campaign on Kiwi Farms. Sorrenti was “crushed” and then hunted down in hotels by users of the site.
A report in Time says research shows that “although only one in five websites on the mainstream internet is hosted by Cloudflare, it hosts one in three websites known primarily for spreading hate speech or misinformation.”
Cloudflare had remained silent until the blog post on Wednesday.
“Our conclusion – informed by all the many conversations we’ve had and thoughtful discussion within the wider community – is that voluntary termination of access to services that protect against cyberattacks is not the right approach. “, Cloudflare executives said in the post.