aAfter weeks of activist lobbying, internet infrastructure company Cloudflare recently ended its support for Kiwi Farms, an online group that was describe it As “the largest forum for stalkers on the web”. Breaking point: a targeted harassment campaign against a transgender and activist so severe that it He led his target into hiding. Cloudflare was providing the basic technical infrastructure for site security and speed, and with those things removed, Kiwi Farms crashed.
But what will happen to sites like Kiwi Farms in the future? And what is the responsibility of content moderation for companies like Cloudflare, which provide basic – usually invisible – services to the vast majority of the web? United State And the European Union They face increased scrutiny over privacy, safety and security online this year, and some say providers like Cloudflare need to take responsibility too.
Frederick Brennan is the founder of 8chan, a message board that has been linked to hate speech, white supremacy, and nationalism. In 2019, six years after the message board was founded, a site user carried out a mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, and posted his statement on 8chan. It was later linked to Several other shootings.
Brennan deny his creation In the press, he has gone on to call for action against photo boards such as Kiwi Farms and the site he founded. Now 28 years old, he is a software developer.
In this Q&A, excerpted from two interviews with Brennan in September, he explains why the Internet must be more regulated in the United States, as with other industries, to address the problems raised by toxic sites.
Edited for length and clarity.
Surprised by Cloudflare’s removal of Kiwi Farms?
Frederick Brennan: No, not really, especially because of who they targeted. I am not at all surprised. I have seen that it is inevitable. josh [Moon, the founder of Kiwi Farms] He makes mistakes like this all the time. He is relentless when it comes to the people he hates. He clearly hates transgender people, and has gone on record to believe in slandering one of them.
The Logic Operator in his position didn’t want to get into this fight, and I thought he mistakenly assumed Cloudflare would stay behind. I think it’s his ideology that makes him unable to see what’s going to happen.
You have first-hand experience with these types of websites. Should Cloudflare’s action unleash something broader for companies that provide hosting, security, and other infrastructure for websites?
It is multifaceted. There is really only one country where something like this tiny site can exist, and that is the United States due to the intersection of different laws. In different jurisdictions, this is not possible – even in the places you’d expect. Singapore for example? No, this is impossible. Japan? No, that’s the biggest problem because the United States is a broken democracy right now. You know, I’m American. I don’t mind saying that.
All social media is in the United States. Not because Americans are uniquely good at making these things. I work on free software, have worked with developers from basically every country and there is nothing special about our programming skills. There is nothing special in the American mind when it comes to creating web services. It’s all legal and corporate matters.
It’s really legal arbitration, as it has the least problem in the United States, which is why I don’t really know how to answer your question, because I don’t know if there is any world power that can do anything other than the United States. And I don’t know how the United States can even begin to work on this, because our system is so broken.
Our government in the United States has decided that its technological edge on the international stage gives it a lot of power. Thus, market regulations are so low that they are essentially zero. So all tech companies want – if they don’t have their own corporate registrations here, which they usually do – then they have all of their infrastructure here.
Activists rallied against Cloudflare and urged the service provider to shut down the site. The site now cycles between providers in Russia and Portugal, in a cat-and-mouse game as activists launch retaliatory attacks. What happens to kiwi farms now?
I think they get away with so much that people will continue to do this civil justice [providers like Cloudflare] will withdraw. This is a symbol of the wild west internet culture in the US, where it relies heavily on vigilance.
How do you get out of this eligibility-based system?
I don’t know there is a good way. But I think we’ll see some kind of new system emerge. I first started thinking about it after the Christchurch shooting, when Australia, New Zealand and some European countries banned not only kiwi farms, but 8kun, the 8chan website on which the shooter posted his manifesto. It is mainly based on the concept of electronic sovereignty.
There has been a change of standards internationally, as politicians are tired of the United States and its utter lack of action. The Internet is likely to become even more broken. And the sites you can access more and more will depend on which country you are in.
Is there a model to follow outside the US in terms of regulation? Is this even an option?
I hope that. I think the UN needs some kind of agreement or framework on Internet policy. Otherwise it would be complete chaos with each country making its own decisions, based on local laws, and which websites are accessible.
What should we do now?
I think what we should do is what I do, which mostly focuses on those responsible and whether or not they are acting in good faith or in bad faith. That’s mostly why I don’t tend to make it a speech problem most of the time – like a content issue, per se. I tend to make it a problem about what administrators think, why they allow certain content, and what their processes look like. And when it comes to kiwi farms, their operations are terrible, and they’ve done things that are literally extortionate.
I think there should be stricter enforcement against what officials do. But regulation is also needed. In the same way that we have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that monitors the food and drugs and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that monitors securities, you only need a regulatory agency for social media companies. Incidentally, photo boards like Kiwi Farms and 4chan are an IT company that this regulator can take action against like Facebook.
I’d like to see if it helps at all, before we change the basic things about free speech.
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