By Bryn Fawn
This article has been edited for accuracy as of 10/3/2022.
Warning: This article has mentions of suicide and excerpts from a suicide letter. It may not be suitable for all readers.
Online harassers, bullies and even killers — given the adoring nickname “troll” online — seemingly could enact their hatred without any repercussions. Swatting, doxxing, suicide-baiting, while not legal, are difficult to catch perpetrators, let alone prosecute. Until now.
Clara Sorrenti, better known online by her username Keffals is a transgender political streamer. She was a victim of doxxing and swatting. Doxxing is the process in which private information is somehow obtained and illegally made public online, commonly through social media. Swatting is the process in which a false anonymous report is made to police that there is an active shooter, and SWAT is sent to a person’s home. Swatting is not just illegal, it can be deadly.
Sorrenti, however, had the final laugh as she took down a notorious message board, Kiwi Farms.
Kiwi Farms is akin to 4chan, a message forum where users can congregate to add messages in a long thread. Kiwi Farms even began as a spin off 4chan, originally named “8chan.” With few guidelines, almost anything goes on the site. Toxicity, or performing vile actions, are encouraged on the site and rewarded.
Kiwi Farms is even attributed to three suicides. The first occurred in 2016. Julie Terryberry committed suicide when she was 19 years old. Terryberry was a victim of incessant harassment from the forum, resulting in her degrading mental health and depressing conclusion to her story. In 2018, Chloe Sagal ended her own life at 31 years old. Sagal was an indie video game developer, harassed by users of Kiwi Farms. Finally, most recently, David “Near” Ginder ended their own life in 2021.
“I can’t handle this anymore. I have tried everything.” Ginder wrote on twitter. “I’ve always tried my best to be kind and helpful to everyone. And I didn’t do anything wrong other than be weird online. Maybe a bit too passionate at times. Their horrific claims are entirely baseless.”
Their thread is heartbreaking. Ginder had already decided that their life was over, and wrote a heartfelt and heart wrenching goodbye to the world. Even though it appeared their time was coming to an end, they still gave readers hope. “It’s too late for me, but I pray that someone, at some point, will do something about that website. There’s too many people suffering,” Ginder wrote.
Sorrenti was that hope. Sorrenti was able to end the suffering.
Kiwi Farms was owned by Joshua “Null” Moon. Moon was originally a user of the site 8chan, but created CWCki Forums, and was later renamed Kiwi Farms. The site amassed 16,000 daily logins before it was shut down. After the suicide of Ginder, Kiwi Farms was dropped by DreamHost, their hosting website. Soon after, under great pressure, CloudFlare also dropped the site, rendering it offline.
Moon made a statement in a Telegram — a message service, similar to a group chat — that with CloudFlare no longer providing services Moon would attempt to find another avenue to resume the site’s activities. The site shifted to Russian hosts, DDoS-Guard, but was also dropped. Moon then issued a statement essentially admitting defeat.
“I would have kept going if Joshua Moon had shown me just the tiniest bit of compassion. But he chose not to,” Ginder wrote in their goodbye thread on Twitter.
Sorrenti was doxxed on the forum. Users had found her home address and swatted her, sending SWAT to her home. In interviews after the events, Sorrenti shared how she had a gun muzzle pointed at her but was given the dignity to put on pajamas. Sorrenti also shares her fears on the probability of her survival if she was not white.
After the Swatting, Sorrenti and her fiance fled to a hotel for safety. Sorrenti posted a picture of her cat on the hotel bed, letting her followers know she was well and alive. However, Kiwi Farm members dissected the image and located the hotel Sorrenti was residing in. Pizzas attached to her name were bombarding the hotel, a message to Sorrenti that she had been found again.
Sorrenti continued to run across Canada, fleeing the harassment. Yet, each and every time she was discovered and further harassed. There were more swatting attempts, more threats. It began to pile up. Eventually, Sorrenti fled to Ireland. Sorrenti was lucky to have friends to assist her along the way, especially those that opened their doors to her.
After a while, Sorrenti was tired of hiding.
She began a vocal campaign to take the site down once and for all. Sorrenti drew attention to their horrendous past, which grappled their site hosters’ attention. Soon, the public began pressuring CloudFlare to drop Kiwi Farms.
Under the constant complaints and evidence piling up, Cloud Flare buckled.
Days before publication of this article, it appeared that there was no avenue Moon could take to restart the site. While there are other sites similar to Kiwi Farms out there, none had such a grand reach as Kiwi Farms. However, as of Sep. 27th, Kiwi Farms has made its return. It’s uncertain what hosting site is being used as of Oct. 3. Visiting kiwifarms.net as of editing will bring users to the infamous site.
The families of Terryberry, Sagal and Ginder will never see their loved one again. These three victims have been overshadowed in media coverage, and deserve better. Sorrenti has tried her best to keep their names known, and their stories told.
Sorrenti now wishes to move on with her life. Sorrenti streams again as she used to, and will be returning home soon. It doesn’t stop her, however. Sorrenti continues to advocate for transgender rights and the betterment of the world.
Ginder ends his Twitter thread with: “Thank you all so much for the kind messages. Please take care of yourselves. I love you all very much. Thank you for all your support over the years. It’s been such an honor. I’ll miss you all so much, but at least I can finally be at peace.”
Ginder then links to a song titled “Les Voyages De L’ me” by Alcest.