Blog!

Creator community alarmed as Patreon fires security staff

Guest post by Naomi Muller

In a public Linkedin post shared on September 8th, former Patreon security team member Emily Metcafe wrote, “So for better or worse, I and the rest of the Patreon Security Team are no longer with the company.” This news came as a shock to staff and creators who utilize the platform alike and quickly spread to Twitter. 

Patreon is a popular platform for artists and content creators. Creators utilize the features of the site differently: some use it specifically as a hub for their community; other creators use it as a place for sharing exclusive content with patrons, similar to a subscription service; while others, like podcasters, streamers, and Youtube personalities, share their work elsewhere and only work with the platform as a way to easily accept tips and monthly pledges from fans.

One of the main functions of the Patreon website is payment processing so the type of data that is at risk is not simply customer preference information. Directory information and other contact data is widely available from government databases (such as voter files) and from data aggregators and list-building services. Financial data, however, is much more sensitive and breaches are more likely to result in the kind of fraud that has you looking at long-term credit monitoring, freezes and other inconvenience.

And speaking of competition, other than the new subscriber features on popular social media platforms, such as Super Followers on Twitter, there are not many clear alternatives to Patreon at the moment–at least not with the same level of consumer brand recognition.

Patreon acknowledged the removal of its security staff, saying it would use third-party services instead. This may not assuage the concerns of creators who expressed feeling blindsided by this move. As more social media platforms introduce paid subscriber features, this was not something anyone associated with the popular platform, including Patreon’s own employees, saw coming. 


Cloudflare drops Kiwi Farms: the internet is safer for marginalized people

Guest post by Naomi Muller

Since its creation in 2013, Kiwi Farms has provided a forum for people who find cyberstalking, doxxing private information, and targeted harassment of the most vulnerable entertaining. The site’s founder Joshua Moon, nicknamed “Null” on the platform, was formerly an administrator for 8chan–an unmoderated alternative to 4chan.

In 2017, Moon changed his company’s name to “1776 Solutions, LLC” from “Final Solutions, LLC”–a direct reference to the holocaust. From the beginning, Kiwi Farms was an online space dedicated to mocking marginalized people and destroying their lives.

Users of the hate forum engaged in long-term harassment campaigns specifically to direct online abuse and offline violence to marginalized people especially transgender people, neurodivergent folks, and sex workers but most Kiwi Farms targets were LGBTQ+, including children. Targets families would also be relentlessly tormented–some even after their targeted loved ones died by suicide with encouragement from Kiwi Farms users.

There are at least three known trans targets who have died by suicide over the years and many who lived in fear with their most personal details posted on the site to be openly mocked and ridiculed. This wasn’t something the site’s hosting service Cloudflare seemed concerned with until recently, despite the pleas of targets who have had their lives threatened and derailed. At least, not concerned enough to address it. Kiwi Farms users openly bragged in the forum that they don’t respect laws and Moon ignored any legal correspondences from victims’ lawyers regarding the encouragement and admission of hate crimes on the site.

Popular trans Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who also goes by Keffals, was “swatted” on August 5th after she was impersonated in an email which contained threats of performing a mass shooting. Swatting was a common way that Kiwi Farms users would torment their targets–using law enforcement to harass and in some cases, kill their victims as officers believe there may be credibility to false threats sent under the victims’ name. She was arrested by London police and had her devices confiscated by police in her home in Ontario.

Once proven innocent, Keffals, who frequently raises funds for trans youth initiatives, crowdfunded support and fled to Northern Ireland.  And then she chose to fight back—using her platform on Twitter to speak openly about her experience as a target and posted regular updates after talking to the press. She began to use to the tag #dropkiwifarms and call for her followers to pressure Cloudflare to stop doing business with the hate site

And it worked.

With the support of her community, Keffals gathered enough donations to leave her home country and stay safe while continuing to push for Cloudflare to stop hosting the forum.

Cloudflare lost nearly $3 billion in market capital since #dropkiwifarms started to trend and on September 3rd, dropped them citing “an imminent threat to life”. The Kiwi Farms domain redirected to this notice on the Cloudflare’s website. Responsible service providers online, take note. 

Following Cloudflare, login security provider hCaptcha also dropped support for the site. Then the Russian hosting company DDoS-Guard that Moon tried to host from instead of Cloudflare followed suit. Though Kiwi Farms has popped back up sporadically with other Russian and Chinese hosts, these also go down almost immediately. And this was to be expected. There will probably always be splinter groups in private Discords and on Telegram but the main hub for organizing the mass harassment and death threats is not easily accessibly anymore and functionally gone—taking with it thousands of abusive threads with identifying information of victims.

Keffals released her final statement on September 5th. “The campaign is over. We won.” 

As of September 7th, Kiwi Farms no longer comes up in a Google search. The results are Wikipedia and articles covering the story. In a public statement, creator Joshua Moon said, “I do not see a situation where the Kiwi Farms is simply allowed to operate. It will either become a fractured shell of itself, like 8chan, or jump between hosts and domain names like Daily Stormer.”

A month ago, Clara Sorrenti was swatted and dealing with death threats like many of Kiwi Farms trans targets and their families over the years. Now, users can’t even access old versions of Kiwi Farms through the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine.

Get your check from Facebook. Really.

There’s still time for you to get your claim in for Meta’s class action settlement regarding Facebook’s internet tracking litigation if you qualify. U.S. Facebook users with active accounts between April 2010 and September 2011 who visited third-party websites which displayed the Facebook “like” button are entitled to financial compensation.

This four year $90 million lawsuit has finally reached a conclusion after court filings showed that third parties were given access to Facebook users’ personal data without their consent. 

Facebook’s vast empire built on personal data has driven a number of lawsuits, and earlier this month the social media platform’s parent company settled yet another for an undisclosed amount. 

The lawsuit was brought by Facebook users among over 300,000 people who downloaded a quiz app called “This Is Your Digital Life” created by Cambridge Analytica. Plaintiffs alleged that the app harvested users’ data that included data describing users’ Facebook Friends, potentially accessing the personal information of 80 million-plus users

The infamous political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had ties to Trump’s political strategist Steve Bannon and was shut down in 2018 after breaching privacy laws through data collection for the creation of targeted political advertising based on voter profiling. This personal data was used to influence the 2016 U.S. election in which Trump was elected President. This latest suit sought to depose key Facebook executives, including COO Sheryl Sandberg. Unlike direct marketing tools for data appending information such as email and phone numbers from opt-in sources, Facebook’s complex linkages of friends and preferences data allows creation of targeting profiles that researchers have said know you better than a spouse or partner

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sandberg denied any wrongdoing on the record, stating Facebook never broke any laws and their privacy practices are consistent with the disclosures agreed upon when users sign up for their accounts. 

For the terms of the settlement in the “like” button case or to file a claim, visit www.FBinternettrackingsettlement.com. You can also choose the mail-in option and submit by September 22, 2022. 

This makes my brain hurt

Here’s a quote from “Three Cheers for Socialism”

“Americans are, of course, the most thoroughly and passively indoctrinated people on earth. They know next to nothing as a rule about their own history, or the histories of other nations, or the histories of the various social movements that have risen and fallen in the past, and they certainly know little or nothing of the complexities and contradictions comprised within words like “socialism” and “capitalism.” Chiefly, what they have been trained not to know or even suspect is that, in many ways, they enjoy far fewer freedoms, and suffer under a more intrusive centralized state, than do the citizens of countries with more vigorous social-democratic institutions. This is at once the most comic and most tragic aspect of the excitable alarm that talk of social democracy or democratic socialism can elicit on these shores. An enormous number of Americans have been persuaded to believe that they are freer in the abstract than, say, Germans or Danes precisely because they possess far fewer freedoms in the concrete. They are far more vulnerable to medical and financial crisis, far more likely to receive inadequate health coverage, far more prone to irreparable insolvency, far more unprotected against predatory creditors, far more subject to income inequality, and so forth, while effectively paying more in tax (when one figures in federal, state, local, and sales taxes, and then compounds those by all the expenditures that in this country, as almost nowhere else, their taxes do not cover). One might think that a people who once rebelled against the mightiest empire on earth on the principle of no taxation without representation would not meekly accept taxation without adequate government services. But we accept what we have become used to, I suppose. Even so, one has to ask, what state apparatus in the “free” world could be more powerful and tyrannical than the one that taxes its citizens while providing no substantial civic benefits in return, solely in order to enrich a piratically overinflated military-industrial complex and to ease the tax burdens of the immensely wealthy?”

David Bentley, Three Cheers for Socialism

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist, having run my own business for the past twenty years. But I also believe everything in this paragraph. The contradiction makes my brain hurt.

My latest Facebook ban

I come off my latest month-long Facebook ban this evening. I figured I should probably post about it here, where I can do so in relative safety.

I read this story about Facebook relaxing its rules on call for violence as long as those calls for violence are against Vladimir Putin. I was, like, good for Facebook. I don’t like calls for violence, but I can get behind ill-wishing towards that tiny, despotic cretin. If anybody deserves it, he does.

It then occurred to me that I had a mosaic photo of Putin comprised entirely of dick pics. I thought it might work well as a Facebook Cover Photo. So, that’s what I did.

Facebook’s robot immediately told me that it was not an appropriate photo and that it would be removed.

OK, I thought, that’s fine. I guess the restriction only applies to violent statements, not harmless humor. Fine, whatever, I’ll just post a dog photo for my cover photo, instead.

But, then, the next question asked by the user interface is if I agreed with the decision.

I shrugged. Sure, I guess. I mean, it’s their site. If they don’t want it on there, I won’t put it on there.

Click: Agree.

I went on to try to upload another cover photo, and got this message:

I know that popup very well. It means I’m banned. Again. For something the system immediately caught, asked me to take down, which I did, and then it banned me anyway. God dammit.

I clicked on the let us know link, which opened a popup, in which I posted a very brief appeal. And, then, when I hit Send, I get the error message that tells me I can’t appeal being banned while I’m banned:

Facebook can go to Hell. Seriously. Every time their stock drops, I rub my hands together and cackle with glee.

Unbelievable double standard at the New York Times

Delusional — NY Times has no “regrets” over Clinton email fiasco

Maintaining the New York Times’ strident, defensive stance of refusing to acknowledge any fault in the paper’s spectacularly failed 2016 campaign coverage, executive editor Dean Baquet last week insisted the paper made no mistakes covering Hillary Clinton’s historic run.

The denial comes as the press is faced with a stunning double standard used to cover Clinton and Trump and their handling of classified documents. In 2015 and 2016, the press, led by the Times, treated that topic and Clinton’s private emails as the defining issue of the day. Today, news that Trump smuggled boxes of top-secret documents out of the White House is treated as a minor event, by comparison.

“I don’t have regrets about the Hillary Clinton e-mail stories,” Baquet recently told The New Yorker. “It was a running news story. It was a serious F.B.I. investigation. The stories were accurate.”

The Times published hundreds of But Her Email articles and columns. Is Baquet vouching for all of them? Here’s one that was corrected twice and still contained a false claim.

Baquet suggests the paper dedicated so much time and attention to the emails because there was a “serious FBI investigation.” But the Times didn’t know the FBI was investigating until August 2015, five months after the paper began its relentless and hyperactive coverage.


It’s always startling to watch journalists who demand transparency from public officials refuse to provide it themselves.

If you’re not a Press Run subscriber, you should be.

Facebook’s account restrictions are super dumb

I got yet another 30-day Facebook ban. This time, it’s for spreading “false information about vaccines”.

This might come as a surprise to my friends, who know I am double-vaxxed with a booster, very pro-vaccine and very pro-mask, as well as the fact that I mercilessly mock and shame the unvaccinated and the maskless at every opportunity. (These are just from January alone.).

Here was the offending content that went against community guidelines:

This is talented pianist Mat Eisenstein, who takes recordings of angry anti-maskers and anti-vaxxer nutcases, and sets them to dramatic music. The rants are usually already funny (in a horrible sense) but with the music they are hilarious.

Here’s one I shared last week, which my friends really loved and laughed at and shared a bunch. For some reason, this one did NOT get me banned:

Obviously, this is stupid. Facebook’s reviewers can’t tell the difference between anti-vaxx nonsense and MOCKING anti-vaxx nonsense. It’s really infuriating. And I’m stuck in a ban for a month!

I went through the appeal process, which seems to be all of one click – selecting a radio-button that says “I disagree with the decision.”

And that’s all she wrote. What more can I do? It’s really very frustrating.