I hadn’t even heard of Kiwi Farms until last week, but they are some bad, bad dudes, according to this article in The Guardian by Alex Hern:
You don’t need to know much about the online hate forum Kiwi Farms. In my first draft of this newsletter, I included a full history of the site, from its days as a spinoff of the far-right message board 8chan that was dedicated to the full-time harassment of a single internet micro-celebrity, to its involvement in the Christchurch shootings and multiple targets who went on to take their own lives. I discussed the detail of whether the site has an ideology that can be pinned down: the extent to which it is far-right, white supremacist, radically transphobic – or simply nihilistic and nasty.
But you don’t actually need to know the grimy details. Suffice to say that Kiwi Farms is, like a long list of similar forums before and after it, somewhere that proudly fights for the label of “the worst place on the internet”.
Over the last year, the forum has focused on one person in particular: Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who attracted its ire for using her platform to discuss the wave of anti-transgender legislation sweeping across the US. Sorrenti, who streams as Keffals, was subject to a growing wave of harassment, as Kiwi Farms coordinated takedown requests to Twitch, shared her personal information and contrived to get her “swatted”. A fake shooting threat, sent to police in London, Ontario, where she lived, led to an armed response unit being sent to her house.
Similar attacks have ended in disaster before, and Sorrenti was only arrested and held for questioning. After, she fled to a nearby hotel, and posted a picture of her cat on the bed to reassure followers that she was OK. Forum users meticulously compared the sheets in the photo with those of every single hotel in the area, finding a match through online booking sites and resuming the onslaught of harassment, sending endless pizzas to her, by name, to let her know she’d been found.
I think the tendency is to ridicule these guys — and it is always guys — as a bunch of shut-in incels living in their mothers’ basements.
But this movement has escalated from online harassment, which is bad enough. Once you start stalking someone by tracking their locations from country to country, and then sharing those details with your mentally unbalanced followers, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed.
If they were doing this to me, I’d be tempted to buy a gun.
Which just plays into the long-term game plan of the gun lobby, I know. (Flood the world with guns so that people feel unsafe and buy more guns.)
But I’d still might do it.
Incidentally, that previous in-depth article that Alex Hern mentions can be found here.
BTW, pity the poor company in New Zealand called Kiwi Farms, an agricultural company.