Down the Rabbit Hole - Keffals, the DIY HRT Directory, and Kiwi Farms
Outline of Events
Kiwi Farms was recently brought (mostly) offline [Addendum: see update at end of article as this situation has evolved] thanks largely to an organized campaign to persuade the site’s internet infrastructure providers – Cloudflare being chief among them – to cease offering services to the site. This campaign seems to have originated with a streamer named Clara Sorrenti, who goes by the handle of Keffals online. From what I’ve gathered, the feud between Kiwi Farms and Sorrenti began in March of 2022 with the creation of a thread dedicated to Sorrenti on Kiwi Farms, which would go on to reach over 1800 pages in length by the time this feud climaxed. The feud would then intensify in June, when Sorrenti made a public statement of support for a website called the DIY HRT Directory. This website was designed to provide information on “DIY” solutions for HRT or hormone replacement therapy for transgender individuals. Sorrenti’s sponsorship of the directory, the details of which are unclear, ostensibly included monetary support.
Users of Kiwi Farms took issue with the directory and Sorrenti’s sponsorship of it due to their expressed beliefs that Sorrenti and the directory’s operators – namely an individual known mainly as “bobposting” – were engaged in “grooming” of children. Accusations ranged from claims of outright sexual exploitation to a sort of ideological grooming, wherein impressionable minors are “groomed” into becoming transgender. However, to describe the evidence backing these claims as sparse would be generous, though there may be a valid point within the noise about the safety and ethical practices of those associated with the directory, which we’ll get to in due time.
Back to the timeline of events - later in August, Joshua Moon, owner and operator of Kiwi Farms, would go on to host a livestream with Nick Rekieta of Rekieta Law where the two discuss the feud with Sorrenti at length. Meanwhile, Sorrenti’s crusade to take down Kiwi Farms appeared to be gaining some traction, with mainstream media outlets beginning to pick up the story. Mainstream media attention had initially been drawn a few days prior when Marjorie Taylor Green – a Republican Congresswoman – had called for the shutdown of Kiwi Farms on August 24th over an alleged SWATting incident. MTG leveraged the incident to take political shots at the Democrat party for promoting “defund the police” policies and supposedly abiding “lawlessness”.
Between the feud with Sorrenti – already a fairly popular personality with 150K+ followers on Twitter as of this writing – and growing attention in the mainstream media, Sorrenti et al.’s public pressure “#DropKiwiFarms” campaign was picking up steam. Though Cloudflare initially resisted calls to drop Kiwi Farms (even pushing back indirectly with this blog post), these events would eventually culminate with Cloudflare – provider of critical DDoS protection services to Kiwi Farms at the time – caving to public pressure and dropping the site from its services on September 3rd of 2022. This allowed DDoS attacks against the site to take full effect, crushing its bandwidth and thus making the site unusable as it could not remain online in the face of severe and sustained DDoS attacks.
Since being denied the use of Cloudflare’s services, Moon has been attempting to keep Kiwi Farms online by moving hosts, finding new DDoS protection providers, and the like. Thus far, these efforts have largely failed, with several other businesses such as DDoS-Guard also dropping the site from their services. With no mainstream infrastructure providers left and a rapidly dwindling number of fringe providers willing or able to provide service, Kiwi Farms has been effectively shut out of the clearnet. While the site may live on in a kneecapped form on TOR, its reach has certainly been reduced significantly by these events, and Sorrenti et al. have since declared victory over Moon and his site.
Joshua Moon, Radical Libertarianism, and Anti-Social Philosophy
On the surface, Moon appears to be what I’d call a radical libertarian – someone who eschews the concept of social consequences for bad behavior in favor of there being essentially no consequences at all. Moon would likely claim that the government should take no action against bad actors in society (note that we’re not necessarily discussing criminals here) and that most private entities should not do so either. At the very least, Moon and others like him generally agree that entities which serve in infrastructure roles (financing, web hosting, etc.) should be disallowed from exercising any sort of exclusionary power without court orders to cease providing service to an entity. Further, they would likely posit that such court orders should only be issued for severe violations of the law.
The problem with this belief system is that it quickly buckles under even moderate scrutiny. Moon built and ran a website explicitly designed for exacting social consequences upon individuals that he and other users of Kiwi Farms deemed undesirable or dangerous. Kiwi Farms existed to archive and amplify the supposed wrongdoings and social transgressions of those they deemed undesirable for the express purpose of having this information lead to social consequences for a target in the form of job loss, loss of credibility, etc. In this way, Moon and those like him contradict themselves – they very much want there to be social consequences for undesirable behavior. However, Moon and others justify this apparent dissonance by framing it through the lens of their own brand of moral objectivity. In their world, the undesirables they target are objectively bad while Moon et al. are objectively good, or at least not bad. They do not expect social consequences to be visited upon them for their actions towards others because they are merely doing the work of a good citizen in cleaning up their society.
The details of the logic which undergirds this worldview remain largely foreign to me. Moon himself refused to elaborate when asked for comment on what justified targeting the individuals that found themselves in Kiwi Farm’s crosshairs, so I have little more than external context and intuition to go on. However, we do at least have a solid starting point – Dark Enlightenment philosophy.
Dark Enlightenment, to my understanding, is a sort of atheistic or at least religiously agnostic belief system built upon race essentialism, radical reactionary thought, libertarian capitalism, and a desire for a return to medieval era, Western style social traditions (or more accurately, whatever its proponents perceive those traditions to be, real or not) under the theory that democracy and progressivism inevitably lead to the moral corruption of society. I have not read the work of Curtis Yarvin (also known as Mencius Moldbug) or Nick Land – Dark Enlightenment’s progenitors – so I cannot expound upon the philosophy in detail, but suffice to say that DE reactionaries are nothing like any mainstream political party or even most fringe movements to which they’re arguably related. Indeed, while many adherents to alt-right movements, white supremacy, and other hard-right fascist ideologues are enamored with Dark Enlightenment thinking it is not because they are in total alignment with it. However, the degree of separation is subtle, the differences nuanced, and all the aforementioned ideologies bleed heavily into each other.
Getting to the point, Joshua Moon has inarguably been influenced by Dark Enlightenment philosophy. In a statement on the Kiwi Farms Telegram page, posted after Cloudflare dropped Kiwi Farms, Moon mentions “the cathedral”. This is the giveaway that Moon has been influenced by the work of Curtis Yarvin, as Yarvin is responsible for coining the term as a reference to what he perceives as an amalgamation of progressivist power within journalism and academia. Yarvin views these entities as nominally separate, but in practice they act as one conglomerate being to shape popular narratives and the political landscape as a whole in favor of progressive ideals. Because of this, Yarvin, Moon, et al. view journalists and most contemporary academics as their enemy in a very real and visceral way. This helps to explain the caustic reaction many journalists reaching out to Moon directly have received – to expect one who views you as their enemy in a death struggle for the future of civilization to be cordial with you is naive at best and serves to underscore how little most others reporting on this matter understand about Moon and those like him.
Now, what does all this tell us about Moon and his motivations? Put simply, Moon’s personal philosophy is largely misanthropic but in a very directed way – he sees society as having clear, objective divisions which should be respected. He sees progressivism as a form of social decay, being incompatible with his version of libertarian freedom and as the cause for most of our social ills. Amongst those ills are social policies aimed at establishing equality (which naturally encompasses such things as acceptance of transgender individuals as equal members of society), the dismantling of racial hierarchies or opposition to race essentialism, and the like.
Lunacy – Joshua Moon’s Self-Contradiction and Deceit
While we’ve illuminated the basics of Moon’s philosophy, there’s still the matter of analyzing how consistent it is in practice. To gain further insight on this matter, I reached out directly to Moon via email. To his credit, he did respond in a prompt (though curt) manner.
When asked what Kiwi Farm’s purpose was outside of its stated purpose as a gossip and discussion forum, he told me that the site has no greater purpose or goals. I felt this claim conflicted with Moon’s clear and steadfast dedication to the site – a highly controversial project which has now drawn the ire of many thousands of people – and pressed him on the matter, asking if he saw any dissonance between his words and his actions. Moon claimed that he saw no such dissonance, and further stated that if the site had any purpose at all it was to remind people “what the internet was like before governments and freaks started destroying it.”
I could not disagree more strongly with Moon’s self-assessment. To dedicate oneself to a project which has surely damaged his employment prospects and general social standing but which also has no meaningful purpose comes across as highly illogical. While I may empathize with the desire for a return to the internet of old, hosting a forum dedicated solely to egregiously anti-social behavior for no other reason than you feel like it strikes me as a notably poor way to demonstrate why anyone should seek a return to that era of the net. Of course, I do not believe Moon was being honest with me regarding the purpose of the site. A common theme with Moon’s recent diatribes about those opposed to him and his website is that Kiwi Farms is merely a small discussion forum, wherein users of all stripes are free to post about the misadventures and eccentricities of various persons. Moon consistently downplays the general character of the site’s users, disregarding their flagrant bigotry, conspiratorial beliefs, and the anti-social behavior which is fostered by the environment found on the site.
For a more specific example of Moon downplaying his own actions, there’s the subject of the landing page which was seen on Kiwi Farms for a brief period in late August. On this page, Moon laid out his case against some of the more prominent voices against Kiwi Farms, namely Sorrenti (Keffals), Chloe (bobposting), Liz Fong-Jones (Twitter: @lizthegrey), and Ana Valens (Twitter: @acvalens).
The complaints leveled against these individuals are weak, insofar as the information presented is meant to represent evidence of significant wrongdoing or the like. Most of the points are little more than ad-hominem attacks on the individual’s character via derogatory descriptions of their characteristics. Barring the issues with Sorrenti, Chloe, and their efforts with regard to the DIY HRT Directory (which we’ll get to soon) there’s really nothing worth noting.
One of the more petty attacks is on Liz Fong-Jones for the choker they wear. A photo of Liz wearing the choker is included on the page with the line “LFJ walks around in public with a dog collar (see picture).” I asked Moon about this, and he claimed the line about the choker being a dog collar was to aid in arguing his use of the image was protected by Fair Use, given that Liz had – as Moon claimed – previously attempted to have the image removed via a DMCA takedown. Unsatisfied with Moon’s reply, I inquired further, pointing out that he was essentially making a false factual claim about the choker by mischaracterizing it as a dog collar. I additionally made the point that this made no sense in context – at the time, Kiwi Farms was under a heavy DDoS attack and increasing public scrutiny thanks to Sorrenti et al.’s campaign against the site. It seemed to me that the prudent choice with this landing page would have been to at least try and make it look like Moon and the Kiwi Farm’s user base weren’t just making things up about the people they documented. Further, none of the other images on the page were directly referenced in the text on the page, unlike this image of Liz Fong-Jones, which lead me to question the necessity of the line to enable a reasonable Fair Use claim. Moon simply stated that he did not care if I found his explanation unsatisfying.
I’m unsure what else there is to say that Moon’s actions and words haven’t said for themselves. Moon either harbors a great deal of internal dissonance or simply doesn’t care to appease the inquires of anyone outside of his community, to the point where he is willing to lie regularly and without any regard for the impact it has on his own credibility. What I cannot understand is that he unquestionably possesses a strong desire for Kiwi Farms to survive, yet speaks without apparent regard for the site’s survivability. By lying, refusing to elaborate when asked, engaging in plainly insubstantial attacks on critics, and playing coy as to the site’s real purpose, Moon does the site and its community a great disservice, as his actions are largely antithetical to the site’s ability to survive and retain anything resembling mainstream relevance.
As of this writing, Moon is still fighting to keep Kiwi Farms online, even in the face of further losses such as DiamWall (a European DDoS protection provider) dropping them from their services after only one day or so, and a hack which may have compromised user data.
The DIY HRT Directory
Mixed up in all this is a matter which has received comparably little attention by mainstream media or even popular internet personalities, and that is the DIY HRT Directory. As noted above, this project received the official sponsorship of Clara Sorrenti and – as with nearly anything related to transgender topics – became a subject of ridicule and controversy on Kiwi Farms.
The DIY HRT Directory is a website previously ran by several anonymous individuals, the most prominent among them being the individual known as Chloe or as bobposting on Twitter. Recent events suggest a change of hands is taking place, but we’ll get to that later. Suffice to say that the three individuals known to be directly involved with the project were “Chloe” (Twitter: @bobposting), “Sean” (Twitter: @seanseanwonton), and “Kwii” (Twitter: @KwiiHours [now deleted]).
The stated purpose of the directory was to provide a list of instructions to transgender individuals on how to acquire and use HRT (hormone replacement therapy) medication outside of “official” channels, such as having it prescribed by a doctor. The site provides information on which drugs to use in order to medically transition, off-site purchase links for injection needles, and a list of entities around the world providing HRT medication via mail without a prescription.
It should be noted at this point that Kiwi Farms users were aware of Chloe (bobposting) and the directory in 2021, as a thread dedicated to Chloe was created on Kiwi Farms on September 16th, 2021. As a refresher, Sorrenti (better known as Keffals) officially endorsed the directory in June of 2022, which brought a new wave of attention to Chloe and the directory from Kiwi Farms users and others.
In regards to why the site might draw controversy – even from persons not outright opposed to the idea of trans individuals – there are two primary issues. One, the site promotes the use of medication (capable of causing irreversible changes to the body) normally controlled in its distribution via prescriptions from medical providers. Two, while the site itself may not have explicitly catered to minors, Chloe is on the record as personally aiding minors in acquiring HRT medication via non-prescription means and as promoting the site as a way for minors to gain access to said medication and the equipment needed to use it, namely injection supplies.
For the record, I am not anti-trans and can see the other side of this issue – that gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition and that anyone identifying as transgender should have access to effective treatment, making projects like the DIY HRT Directory morally defensible. However, I’m also incredulous at the thought that no one involved with the project or at least no one who defends it could possibly understand that the idea of aiding minors (whom society often places restrictions on for their own good) in sidestepping regular medical channels to acquire medication from largely non-credentialed sources might be controversial.
On that subject, I had reached out directly to Chloe via Twitter DM and to the directory team at large via the contact email listed on the website. I wanted to get Chloe or other persons involved with the project on the record and allow them to have their say on the matter, asking if they had any concerns about the safety and efficacy of DIY medical transitions and for them to share their take on the ethical issues associated with access to HRT medication. I received no reply to my DM. I did receive a reply to my email from an unspecified person associated with the directory, who asked where this article would be posted. I promptly replied, telling them the article would be posted here, and received no further response. I am currently interpreting this as a refusal to speak about the matter on the record.
Given that the directory team did not answer any questions I posed to them, this portion of the article may appear one-sided. This is unfortunate, but I cannot force others to speak. That said, in an unsurprising turn of events, the DIY HRT Directory has recently (meaning in the past few days since this article’s post date) gone through a shakeup. Chloe has shut down their bobposting Twitter account and gone silent, citing a “significant ramp up” in unspecified harassment. Further, they have stated that they will no longer be associated with the directory and that the entire website will be handed over to a (also unspecified) new owner, with all former team members dissociating with the site. Additionally, Chloe stated that the directory team spoke with Sorrenti and they agreed to end Sorrenti’s sponsorship of the directory. To summarize - as of this writing, all original DIY HRT Directory team members have inexplicably dissociated from the site and Sorrenti has privately (and quietly, given Sorrenti themselves has said nothing regarding these events) ended their sponsorship of the directory.
With the above in mind, I do not have any reason to believe Chloe’s explanation as to why they’ve dissociated from the directory and gone silent. I grant that I base the following on nothing but intuition, but a notable change has occurred on the DIY HRT Directory website. Previously, the site listed medication sources such as Otokonoko Pharmaceuticals under their “transfem” guide and Austeroids under their “transmasc” guide. As far as I can tell, both of these sources are still nominally operational and after a cursory search I could find no explanation for their removal from the site. My current theory is that the site and its operators may have experienced legal issues with regards to the site’s operation and its content, a theory I believe is further reinforced by Sorrenti also quietly dissociating from the site only a few months after making it a point to publicly endorse it. Further compounding this point is that the site now features a soft age gate, requiring the user to certify that they are 18 years of age or older, with the page explicitly stating that the site is intended only for adults.
This age gate, to my knowledge, was not present at any previous point in the site’s history – its deployment coincides with the other aforementioned events.
On the issue of the general safety of non-credentialed hormone sources, I found multiple reports of Austeroids providing bad drugs or no drugs at all after payment was sent. Many of these reports were recent, and were up at the same time the DIY HRT Directory was recommending Austeroids as a source. Of course I cannot verify the authenticity of these reports, but for the sake of comparison Otokonoko appears to have far fewer negative reports and the operator is active on Reddit under the name of Lil_lily, where they regularly answer questions in a public space. Point being that even my brief searches of the web on only two of the many listed sources turned up indicators of source reliability. That the operators of the DIY HRT Directory don’t appear to have put in the same effort – or perhaps any real effort at all – into verifying the integrity of their promoted sources should give one pause.
While I understand the need for access to proper treatment of any medical condition, the problems the directory and those associated with it appear to be having were predictable. By and large, those associated with the site refused to address concerns expressed to them about the use of grey market HRT medication by minors or any generalized concerns about the safety and efficacy of the drugs provided by the sources endorsed by the site. Such an effort cannot survive if those behind it will not confront the political and legal challenges associated with it and shouldn’t survive if it will not address any prevailing ethical and safety concerns. Should there be significant new developments in this matter, updates will be posted here, along with update notes at the end of the article detailing the changes. On that note, I’ll leave this subject here for now.
Pre-publication addendum: As I was writing this article, many of the indexed pages of the DIY HRT Directory which I had used as reference material were ostensibly removed from the Wayback Machine. Some of these pages are still available however through archive.ph/archive.today. Why these pages were removed, I do not know. What is of note is that the only archived pages left are one recent archive dated the 20th of September, 2022, after the aforementioned changes to the site occurred, and the other remaining pages are from the site’s early development when it was called the DIY Trans Wiki.
What CloudFlare (and everyone else) Dropping Kiwi Farms Means for the Internet
Getting back to the issue of Kiwi Farms, internet infrastructure providers (which I’ll also refer to as IIP’s), and the degree of social responsibility these providers hold for the content they host and protect, I have some thoughts.
First, I will admit to be being disquieted by the rapid pace at which multiple infrastructure providers dropped Kiwi Farms without court orders. I generally expect infrastructure providers to remain neutral and to operate only at the bounds set by the law. In other words, I’m generally against infrastructure providers making a unilateral decision to cease providing their services to a customer, barring any extenuating circumstances (such as breach of contract or technical limitations) or court orders. My reasoning for this stance is that infrastructure providers are essentially gatekeepers to the internet, a service that has become a near necessity in the modern age. Should infrastructure providers choose to regularly make subjective (herein meaning “without being required to take action by law”) decisions on the permissibility of the content created or hosted by their customers, I predict the internet would rapidly destabilize and the ideal of a free space which exists above the dominion of oppressive states and corporate entities would cease to exist. Truthfully, the internet is a more fragile place than many believe. Increasing consolidation has left large portions of the open net in the hands of increasingly fewer (and larger) companies. This trajectory – wherein more of the internet is controlled and gate-kept by large corporate entities with each passing day – is a worrying one, with no signs of reversing. When these entities enact subjective moderation policies and begin clamping down on content to chase corporatist agendas and appease oppressive governments, the people lose.
However, I also don’t think it’s all doom and gloom as some have made these events out to be. Cloudflare dropping a site from their services without a court order forcing them to do so is not wholly unprecedented. They previously dropped 8chan during a similar bout of public controversy, due in large part to the use of the site by several mass shooters for posting their manifestos. However, given that Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince took to blocking many of his most prominent critics (including Sorrenti) on Twitter after Cloudflare’s announcement that they had stopped servicing Kiwi Farms, it appears he is not at all happy about the situation. I suspect the only reason he caved to the demands to drop Kiwi Farms was that the increasing amount of negative publicity was beginning to hurt Cloudflare’s bottom line in a way that could not be easily compensated for.
With regards to the other services who dropped Kiwi Farms, I raise the same general objection that such decisions are likely outside their sphere of responsibility. Regardless, while I personally consider any subjective enforcement action by infrastructure providers to be questionable at best, I’m not opposed to discussing the primary alternative viewpoint – that infrastructure providers are not free of social responsibility for the content their services enable to exist on the open web, more specifically the “clearnet”.
Supporters of this view would charge infrastructure providers with ethical responsibility for the content and conduct of their customers, even when that content and conduct is legal. Under this theory, infrastructure providers have a responsibility not to enable behavior seen as anti-social (whether that means dangerous, unethical, or just plain objectionable), given that the internet is a powerful tool for myriad causes - both good and bad. I’ll concede that my thoughts on this matter aren’t complete and thus my objections may not be entirely coherent. I’ve also already set aside the task of discussing this subject alone and in greater detail for a future article. I will say that I don’t believe proponents of this view have thought it through. Subjective enforcement actions by financial infrastructure providers have hit groups such as sex workers particularly hard, and I find that many of the same proponents of this view are also proponents of a right to engage in sex work. It seems to me that there is a persistent thread of hypocrisy amongst the crowd demanding infrastructure or infrastructure adjacent entities to ban persons or groups considered unfavorable from their services, with the same crowd then turning around and crying foul when those subjective enforcement actions are taken against persons or groups whom they favor.
Granted, on the matter of Kiwi Farms specifically, the website and its community at large are without question a net negative. The site is – by and large – an outlet for Joshua Moon and others who think alike to push their personal sociopolitical agenda (one which I’ve affirmatively determined to be anti-social) under the guise of a harmless gossip forum. Perhaps there is an argument to be made that sites like Kiwi Farms should be targeted with specially tailored legislation, the goal of which would be to curtail the creation and growth of these virulently anti-social online communities. Exactly how this would be done without European (or perhaps more topically, New Zealand) style laws against anti-social speech and conduct (laws which I’d argue are largely detrimental) I do not know, and I would caution others from making demands for legislative efforts to outright criminalize such speech and conduct. At least in theory, civil remedies likely exist for at least some of the claims against Kiwi Farms, foremost among the charges being that the site is responsible for fostering egregious levels of harassment against certain individuals which culminated in their committing suicide. For reference, these individuals include Chloe Sagal, Julie Terryberry, and most recently the emulator developer named David Kirk Ginder – better known as Byuu or Near.
Whether civil actions over such conduct as that which plausibly contributed to the suicides of the above named individuals are legally viable is not a question I’m equipped to answer. I’m not particularly knowledgeable in this area of law and its applicability will undoubtedly vary by jurisdiction. Point being however that I believe civil actions could constitute part of a compromise solution which seeks to both curtail “extreme” levels of harassment by online communities while not granting the government prosecutorial power, which may be abused to silence those deemed politically unfavorable.
Regardless of the above issues, Moon and the Kiwi Farms community should have expected resistance. When you persistently push people’s buttons in an attempt to shame them out of public life entirely, it should come as no surprise when they start looking for ways to attack you. Indeed, many people view the DDoS attacks against Kiwi Farms – which are decidedly illegal – as moral, even in light of their criminal nature. Both the legal public pressure “#DropKiwiFarms” campaign and the illegal DDoS attacks were seen by their proponents as a form of self-defense against a hostile entity who seeks to suppress or remove them from society. There’s a sort of irony to this, given that Moon regularly paints himself and the Kiwi Farms community victims of an entrenched progressivist regime which wants him and others like him “to fucking die”. Point being that proponents of the “social responsibility” take on IIP ethics may simply see this as the natural and healthy result of a social conflict being managed without government intervention. An at least nominally marginalized group of individuals felt threatened by the acts of another group, responded with a public pressure campaign as a self-defense measure, and the antisocial group was suppressed and shut out of common services to constrain their destructive behavior. In other words - societal self-determination in action.
As always, thanks for reading, and you can follow me on Twitter for more at @SocialActuality or subscribe to the site’s email list to be alerted to new articles.
Update 9/26/2022 - Added image containing partial statement made by Joshua Moon on the Kiwi Farms Telegram account on September 5th.
Update 11/25/2022 - Previous addendum update on this particular issue struck - Kiwi Farms has now been reliably available via the clearnet at its primary .net domain for several weeks. It appears that Moon has found a fairly durable solution to keeping the site on the clearnet, despite the swathe of service providers cutting off service and the continued efforts of many individuals to have it taken offline, including via methods such as DDoS attacks.