An (Im)perfect Way Forward On Infrastructure Moderation?

from the infrastructure-moderation-appeals dept

Within every conversation about technology lies the moral question: is a technology good or bad? Or, is it neutral? In other words, are our values part of the technologies we create or is technology valueless until someone decides what to do?

This is the kind of dilemma Cloudflare, the Internet infrastructure company, found itself in earlier this year. Following increasing pressure to drop KiwiFarms, a troll site targeting women and minorities, especially, LGBTQ people, Cloudflare’s CEO, Matthew Prince, and Alissa Starzak, its VP for Public Policy, posted a note stating that “the power to terminate security services for the sites was not a power Cloudflare should hold”. Clouldflare was the provider of such security services to KiwiFarms.

Cloudflare’s position was impossible. On the one hand, Cloudflare, as an infrastructure provider, should not be making any content moderation decisions; on the other, KiwiFarm’s existence was putting the lives of people in danger. Although Cloudflare is not like “the fire department” as it claims (fire departments are essential for the societies to function and feel safe; Cloudflare is not essential for the functioning of the internet, though it does make it more secure), still moving content moderation down the internet stack can have a chilling effect on speech and the internet. At the end of the day, it is services, like Cloudflare’s, which get to determine who is visible in the internet.

Cloudflare ended up terminating KiwiFarms as a customer even though originally it said it wouldn’t. In a way, Cloudflare’s decision to reverse its own intention, placed content moderation at the infrastructure level front and center once again. Now though, it feels like we are running out of time; I am not sure how much more of such unpredictability and inconsistency can be tolerated before regulators step in.

Personally, the idea of content moderation at the infrastructure level makes me uncomfortable, especially because content moderation will move somewhere that is invisible to most. Fundamentally, I still believe that moving content moderation down at the infrastructure level is dangerous in terms of scale and impact. The Internet should remain agnostic of the data that moves around it and anyone who facilitates this movement should adhere to this principle. At least, this must be the rule. I don’t think this will be the priority in any potential regulation.

However, there is another reality that I’ve grown into: decisions, like the one Cloudflare was asked to make, have real consequences to real people. In cases like KiwiFarms inaction feels like aiding and abetting. If there is something that someone can do to prevent such reprehensible activity, shouldn’t they just go ahead, and do it?

That something will be difficult to accept. If content moderation is messy and complex for Facebook and Twitter, imagine for companies like Cloudflare and AWS. The same problems with speech, human rights and transparency will exist at the infrastructure level; just multiply them by a million. To be fair, infrastructure providers already engage in removal of websites and services in the internet. And, they have policies to do that. Cloudflare said so: “Thousands of times per day we receive calls that we terminate security services based on content that someone reports as offensive. Most of these don’t make news. Most of the time these decisions don’t conflict with our moral views.” Not all infrastructure providers have policies though and, in general, decisions about content removal taking place at the infrastructure level are opaque.

KiwiFarms will happen again. It might not be called that, but it’s a matter of time before a similarly disgusting case pops up. We need a way forward and fast.

So, here’s a thought: an “Oversight Board-type” of body for infrastructure. This body – let’s call it “Infrastructure Appeals Panel” – will be funded by as many infrastructure providers as possible and its role will be to scrutinize decisions infrastructure providers make regarding content. The Panel will need to have a clear mandate and scope and be global, which is important as the decisions made by infrastructure providers affect both issues of speech and the Internet. Its rules must be written by infrastructure providers and users, which is perhaps the single most difficult thing. As Evelyn Douek said “writing speech rules is hard”; it becomes even harder if one considers the possible chilling effect. And, this whole exercise becomes even more difficult if you need to add rules about the impact on the internet. Unlike the decisions social media companies make every day, decisions made at the infrastructure of the internet can also create unintended consequences to the way it operates.

Building such an external body is not easy and, many things can go wrong. Finding the right answers to questions regarding board member selection, independence, process and values becomes key for its success. And, although such systems can be arbitrary and abused, history shows they can also be effective. In the Middle Ages, for instance, at the time international trade was shaping, itinerant merchants sought to establish a system of adjudication, detached from local sovereign law and able to govern the practices and norms that were emerging at the time. The system of lex mercatoria originated from the need to structure a system that would be efficient in addressing the needs of merchants and, produce decisions that would carry value equivalent to the decisions reached through traditional means. Currently, content moderation at the infrastructure is an unchecked system, where players can exercise arbitrary power, which is further exacerbated by the lack of interest or understanding at what is happening at that level.

Most likely, this idea will not be enough to address all the content moderation issues at the infrastructure level. Additionally, if it is going to have any real chance of being useful, the Panel’s design, structure, and implementation as well as its legitimacy must be considered a priority. An external panel that is not scoped appropriately or does not have any authority, risks creating false accountability; the result is that policy makers get distracted while systemic issues persist. Lessons can be learned from the similar exercise of creating the Oversight Board.

The last immediate thing is for this Panel not to be seen as the answer to issues of speech or infrastructure. We should continue to discuss ways of addressing content moderation at the infrastructure level and try to institute the necessary safeguards and reforms on what is the best way to moderate content. There is never going to be a way to create fully consistent policies or agree on a set of norms. But, through transparency, which such a panel can provide, we can reach a state where the conversation becomes more focused and driven more by facts and less by emotions.

Konstantinos Komaitis is an internet policy expert and author. His website is at

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Companies: cloudflare

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re:

should not the owners attract attention from law-enforcement

That was going to be my suggestion. If there’s something illegal occurring, such as perhaps a swatting attempt, then don’t contact the internet hall monitors. Call the real cops.

Cloudflare’s position was impossible. On the one hand, Cloudflare, as an infrastructure provider, should not be making any content moderation decisions; on the other, KiwiFarm’s existence was putting the lives of people in danger.

Wrong, it was not impossible. File a police report.

KiwiFarms will happen again. It might not be called that, but it’s a matter of time before a similarly disgusting case pops up. We need a way forward and fast.

Looks like the site is back up as of this moment. It is already happening right now. I have no idea if peoples’ lives are actually in danger, but it looks like we get to test the theory immediately.

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Christenson says:

Re: Re: Oh Koby...

First, Kiwi Farms is the SECOND example of this…the first was the Daily Stormer.

Second, plenty of people went to the cops, who, being themselves violent abusers (see Greg Doucette on Twitter for your daily examples), did nothing for the targets of the stochastic terrorism. (Wouldn’t it be great if something bad happened to so-and-so, see DJT and FBI office attacks after the search at Mar-a-lago). Don’t model your cops on CSI — model them on the guy who is on death row in Texas, almost certainly innocent of the murder he is accused of, and the supreme court does not care and the prosecutors won’t test a critical bit of DNA in the case.

I was once told of a kid having his ritalin continually stolen, and it taking quite a personal connection with the cops and lots of privilege to get the crime solved. You have to be the “right” person for the cops to want to find a perpetrator, and it has to be the “right” kind of crime — simple breaking into a car and stealing pocketbooks won’t do it.

And this is before we get into site owners quite possibly being in another country than the victims.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

First, Kiwi Farms is the SECOND example of this…the first was the Daily Stormer.

Then it appears that the experiment is long concluded. This daily stormer site has apparently been back in operation for quite some time, and noone died. I think we can safely say that when you hear about a website’s “existence was putting the lives of people in danger” but no actual threats are ever described or acted upon, then it’s just hyperbolic reaction designed to censor.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I think we can safely say that when you hear about a website’s “existence was putting the lives of people in danger” but no actual threats are ever described or acted upon, then it’s just hyperbolic reaction designed to censor.

About that:
In 2017, Taylor Dumpson was elected as American University’s first female African American student body president. The day after she was inaugurated, a hate crime targeted her on the basis of her race and gender. A masked person hung nooses around campus with bananas tied to them. Some bananas had “AKA” written on them – referencing Plaintiff’s historically black sorority. Others read “Harambe bait,” referencing a gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo as a racist and threatening comparison to African Americans. Defendant Andrew Anglin, an avowed neo-Nazi and publisher of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, then directed his white supremacist followers to threaten and harass her on social media to amplify the harm of the hate crime. In addition to other allegations, the suit alleged that Defendants interfered with the Ms. Dumpson’s ability to fully enjoy places of public accommodation and interfered with her equal opportunity to education. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP, along with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Plaintiff.

Let the excuses flow…

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Who is ‘we’ here? Because plenty of people clearly don’t care about violent bigots, seeing it as their literal birthright to be racist. The history of America kind-of supports that viewpoint, and that’s the history they want the present to be.

And as of 2016 they keep voting their Nazis in. Ever heard of shitbags like Paul Gosar? Not only elected, but publicly harassing political foes. Nothing is going to change until they’re dealt with more throroughly than all those Nazis that frankly got off light. Plenty of Nazis not only didn’t die in combat (not murdered, given that they were belligerent enemy combatants with a tendency to commit war crimes like murdering civilians en masse), they became government officials after WWII.

America aided and abetted the freedom of Nazis after WWII, after all.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

I mean Operation Paperclip is an outdated reference when Nazis continued on well after WWII into the present day, it’s just an American habit of not actually objective to fascists unless the fascists become inconvenient and disrupt the economy.

I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t do more to get rid of Nazis, when they don’t died by old age or suicide, they die fighting people they picked a fight with. Which is essentially them dying when their victims attempt to defend themselves; I’m just saying that people aren’t murdering Nazis since the deaths of Nazis are legally justified.

Ironically, the only people who really murder Nazis are other Nazis, and that’s probably just down to arguments about who gets the biggest pile of meth. One could say vigilante justice of Nazis is technically murder, or argue from the idea that execution is murder.

Killing Nazis runs up against the problem that most of them are now part of white supremacist terrorist organizations and/or criminal drug operations, and as such have a lot of guns per Nazi on average. The socialist gun nuts won’t be an effective counter, since they apparently forgot to redistribute their guns to less-fortunate comrades (I’m not complaining, I don’t want to end up in those idiots GULAG any more than I want the Nazis around).

And again, cops are just some kind of Venn diagram with Nazis. So really, maybe we should be doing more to get rid of cops and guns, since that would kneecap Nazis pretty effectively. Maybe actually reimpose some recruiting standards on the military and/or just get rid of the Army. Etc. Those are legalistic solutions, since it’s pointless to ask that we all go kill Nazis again until it’s too late.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

My guess is that he simply verified if the site is still up and running just before posting solely to ensure that his point was actually based on accurate, up-to-date facts so that he doesn’t make himself look like an idiot. It wouldn’t surprise me if he hadn’t checked the site much (if at all) since the original shutdown prior to making this post.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:


Should and reality are rarely friends, because in reality few cops care about the targets of hate sites. In reality, many cops belong to organized white supremacist hate groups that use such sites to recruit and plan violence. Were they to give it public attention, they would implicate themselves in what is essentially terrorism. Why endanger their ability to instead infiltrate and sometimes control whole police departments?

The military has the same issue, because the structural basis of the military and police was not put in place to protect the kinds of people who are victims of these hate sites. Plenty of REALLY BAD things are not simply ignored by police constantly, but perpetrated by them as well. Read a Tim Cushing article for a handful of examples.

TKnarr (profile) says:

Because law enforcement, and the politicians driving the whole to-do, are lazy. They could go after the users of KiwiFarms directly when those users are in their jurisdiction (and if they aren’t in their jurisdiction then I can’t see them being an actual threat to anyone in their jurisdiction that the twit filter can’t deal with). That though requires actual work to collect the evidence and file charges, and all too often the courts have been maneuvered into holding that someone right in front of you holding a gun and threatening to shoot you isn’t an actual threat until they aim and pull the trigger. So law enforcement and the politicians want to take the easy way out and apply pressure to someone else who has nothing to gain and everything to lose if they resist the pressure. That doesn’t really solve the problem, the people who are the problem are still out there and can still find each other and egg each other on, but it looks like they’re doing something which is all that matters when it comes re-election time.

Anonymous Coward says:

An underexplored aspect of Internet content moderation is just how easy it is to take a community full of terrible people and scapegoat them of being far worse than their norm actually is.

They’re already unsympathetic and unrepentant as it is. Who the hell would believe the argument “we’re bad but we’re not that bad”? Bad content removed within 20 minutes of being posted up and condemned by everyone who saw it during that time is still 20 minutes too long for content moderation, apparently.

And so the gentrification of the Internet continues….

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Rocky says:


An underexplored aspect of Internet content moderation is just how easy it is to take a community full of terrible people and scapegoat them of being far worse than their norm actually is.

So what? There are of course degrees of “terribleness”, but after a certain point it doesn’t matter because the problem then doesn’t lie with those moderating – it lies with the unrepentant and terrible persons.

And the solution is quite simple, if someone doesn’t want to be seen as an unrepentant and terrible person or worse, they shouldn’t behave in that way because the alternative is that everyone else will lump that person together with all the other unrepentant and terrible persons regardless how far down the scale of terribleness they are.

TL;DR: IF someone behaves like an asshole, they will be treated no different from other assholes.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

after a certain point it doesn’t matter because the problem then doesn’t lie with those moderating – it lies with the unrepentant and terrible persons

And if the moderators themselves are unrepentant and terrible persons, that’s how a site goes from being a ridiculously detailed chronicle of a single person’s life (that was built by stalking said person and thus altering their life forever) to being…well, KiwiFarms.

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Christenson says:

No technology is politically neutral...

Whatever form the internet takes, it is not politically neutral and cannot be made so. The internet simply changes too much of people’s lives, and how those lives change or not is inherently political.

Cloudflare exists in part for political reasons — without it, entities that would like to use the internet for extortion will simply ransom sites via DDOS attacks, and popular sites would become unusably slow.

I think Techdirt and many of its readers generally agree (but never state because it’s so obvious) that the immense power of the internet should be used to enlighten everyone, rather than for one power group to spy on another, but there’s nothing inherent in the design of a system that happily transports data everywhere that requires either outcome. We also generally decry not making broadband internet available to everyone, again, a political stance.

In fact, there’s a whole anti-spam industry dedicated to preventing certain people from sending data to people who don’t want it, and that’s before we get to any kind of moderation on websites. Again, this is a political stance, but its so obvious we generally don’t state it.

Now, as to our friend complaining about gentrification of the internet — you should have seen it in the 1980s, where you had to be at a university to use it. Trying to figure out how to keep stochastic terrorists like Kiwi Farms and Daily Stormer (and Donald Trump) under control isn’t gentrifying, it’s trying to keep the riff-raff from taking over and ruining it for everyone.

Anonymous Coward says:


I disagree, the technology itself is neutral, but how people use and misuse it is where the politics come in. Also, a lot of the problems on the Internet are caused by a few criminals, grifters and trolls, who cause everybody else take action to protect themselves from these abusive people. Despite this, there are many communities on the Internet quietly following their interests, even next door to other communities on the same platform that suffer from troll and other ne’er-do-wells.

It is also the case that the ne’er-do-wells get the bulk of the news and attention, because that is where all the news is, while a community going along quietly, and even supporting some member through some crisis is left unreported.

Anonymous Coward says:

Gentrification has a fucking racist aspect to it.

It’s rarely about making spaces safe for everyone, but for white people only. Or the majority race if whites aren’t the majority.

And usually, it’s also making said spaces palatable to a certain subset of the majority race, usually the upper middle class or higher.

If it was actual gentrification, we’d be unable to comment, because it’d involve forking over money to actually use the space, for one.

Infrastructure moderation is a lot closer to keeping the fucking streets safe, not making it accessible to a subset of people.

As much as I’d love to have 4chan get actual moderation (and kicking the Stormfront fucks out) and null finally getting his just desserts, sometimes you really gotta look at what you’re saying.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:


“Cops didn’t care about the targets because of what they found online when they input the names of the targets into search engines.”

And those cops should be raked over the coals.

If someone threatens to kill the owner of KiwiFarms the expectation is that law enforcement will do their damn job, if they agree with the person or not.

If people from the site are engaging in targeted harassment & making death threats what the cops see when they google that persons name should not matter.

Because many departments had no interest in pursuing these threats pouring out of KiwiFarms, they got enboldened in what they were doing. Now its much worse than it was because those who should have done something failed to do anything.

See also: Restraining orders are just a piece of paper they suddenly care about once its violated & you’re dead.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


It was the attack on transexuals that crossed the invisible line.

Two things.

  1. Just an FYI: “transsexual” is largely considered outdated, even if some people still use it as a self-descriptor; the widely accepted term is “transgender person” or “trans person”.
  2. Keffals was not the first trans person to be harassed by KF⁠—but they were the first such target who had enough connections, influence, and sheer fucking willpower to fight back hard enough that KF finally fell.
Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Cops tend to hate trans people and physically persecute them, there’s no invisible line that the bigots crossed other than messing with the wrong person, who then fought back and brought a bunch of other people who’ve been included in the vast and numerous groups of people who are targets of the kind of bigots that populate these sites.

Sometimes standing up to bullies and terrorists works, and especially when the perpetrator underestimates the ability of their victim to fight back in practical terms. Streamers have a following they can draw on, and frankly lots of trans people seem to be much more technically-adept than forum trolls and other bigots.

Trans people crossed the ‘invisible line’ of being sick of being victims some time ago, clearly. Fighting back brings enemies, but it also brings actual allies while unmasking the fair weather friends. Trying to avoid fighting means being silenced and letting liars like these forum trolls (and their daddy Trump, etc) control the narrative on people’s lives. Trying to avoid fighting lets people who know nothing about what it’s actually like to be put on the margins by bigotry be taken seriously in conversations about marginalized people’s lives.

And IMO that led to few cis people not caring about trans people dying and being harassed, over and over again. For decades and to the point that trans women continue to be murdered in ever greater numbers. Was that all because some bigots hidden in a corner on the Internet? I’m sure they’d like to think so, but it was because of society’s apathy and antipathy towards trans people and the constant ability of transphobic people to have an equal or greater voice in trans people’s lives. So trans people have been using what they can (like technological skills, including social ones like streaming) to fight back.

And why shouldn’t they? When they see their lives on the line as potential victims of bigotry, when they see their deaths being treated so callously and carelessly, who else can they turn to but the community of people that suffer alongside them. Paulette Jordan once said that the old ways were going to be overtaken by new ways, and I think she was right in that people who are persecuted are finding their strengths, reaching out in solidarity, and pushing back on people who literally want to see them dead.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: definition of "trans"

Transgender or TG is really the more accurate term over transsexual because the visible part of it is a lot more social (and therefore about gender) than about reproduction or what may or may not happen in the bedroom.

Seriously, there are very few people in my life I really know much about what sex they might be, but I bet most of us share my brain’s rapid automatic gender classifier that decides whether someone is male or female at the beginning of every social interaction.

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Something I keep not seeing mentioned in all of this, the owner of KiwiFarms was also providing hosting to a nazi group in New Zealand (IIRC) who were actively smuggling weapons into the country & plotting attacks.

Infrastructure moderation isn’t an elegant thing, but sometimes it is the only possible tool.

Google refused to carry the app for Trumps twitter ripoff because it failed to meet requirements for having policies about removing violent content etc.
This managed to convince a bunch of the Trump faithful that Google was blocking the entire site, because without the app to do it for them they had no idea they could use the site via the browser in their device, so there was much flailing and gnashing.

While having moderation moved to a very high level up the stack can go horribly wrong, if they create a clear path that isn’t hidden & opaque, if its something thats outside the established rules requires discussion and agreement before actions are taken its a better step.

We used to have societal norms, over time it became less acceptable for racists to racist in public. Now they are demanding their right to be racist assholes everywhere all the time online & anyone unwilling to let them use their platform to spew it is evil & attacking them unfairly.

There are always going to be pockets online where you can find the worst of what humanity has to offer, but when they are pushing that out into the world no one should be forced to provide them services to carry on terrorizing people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

And that mesaage still needs to be repeated.

Until everyone realizes that that form of totalitarianism has to go.

Infrastructure moderation has been used to silence critics and the like in those places. As a form of info control.

If you really want me to agree that infrastructure moderation needs to be on the table, at least with a proper warrant.

And even then, I would also argue that we have to be eternally vigilant to prevent misuses of infrastructure moderation.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Regime change is the only real solution you have there. A corrupt and totalitarian government can and will abuse every tool at their disposable, even down to food.

If we are to abandon the ideas of moderation tools out of the danger they may be used by abusers to abuse, then let’s abandon all forms of authority and hierarchy, since they are the structures that enable abuse and misuse of tools. Let us abolish states, nations, governments, rulers, bosses, church leaders, and so on.

Then we will not have to worry about content moderation.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Sounds like you’re just along for the ride and if you want it to stop, you need to find bigger wrenches to throw in the gears than the grit of words denied by censorship.

To be clear, I’m referring to something you may find impossible and I’m sure discussing would put you in hot water for: complete overthrow of the government via revolution. After all, that’s usually called treason here in the US.

If you don’t, though, what will disrupt that trajectory? A diasporic movement seems even less-likely. Given that civil society is so controlled, what actual civil solutions do have that would have any impact at all?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6

I can’t assure anyone of it, but I do want it to stop, or at the very least, off the fucking ride personally.

And yes, I do know what it actually takes. High treason, a lot of dead people, the whole works.

It IS the only thing I agree wholeheartedly with Lenin about. And honestly, I was hoping to never use that.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

In the cases where governments leverage ‘moderation’ that’s simply censorship, they’re faulty moderator.

We’ve seen it established that Singapore is incredibly oppressive and bureaucratic, but that’s what enabled censorship. When your government is frankly a pile of steaming trash, the aspects of civil society meant to help people turn against it. Laws and rights are twisted against citizens.

We’ve also seen that not doing something about increasingly-organized bigots has allowed them to become well-armed, somewhat-functionally organized, and commit acts of violence on a large scale aka conventional terrorism as well as cyberterrorism that has had literally deadly consequences for the victims.

And that’s the context of this fucking argument, that hate groups on the internet use free speech as an excuse to exist, organize, and recruit. And when people inevitably die, should the question then be, “but what about their free speech.” Well, they used it to get away with crimes without real consequences for hurting people. Again and again and again.

The people who are dead are not coming back and have no ability to speak for themselves after dying. The people harassed off the internet and public spaces by bigots, may have no interest in using their free speech out of fears of reprisal by the same targeted them to begin with. That’s more than speech, that’s lives.

Maybe governments should not take action because the potential for abuse or how laws shape what actions they can take; that leaves resolving this in the hands of cybervigilantes. I frankly think victims of hate deserve more support than that, given all the bullshit they’re up against out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

And that’s the context of this fucking argument, that hate groups on the internet use free speech as an excuse to exist, organize, and recruit. And when people inevitably die, should the question then be, “but what about their free speech.” Well, they used it to get away with crimes without real consequences for hurting people. Again and again and again.

…I know.

Hence the eternal vigilance in free societies to prevent such a thing from happening.

It used to be that we thought the authorities would help us in that. Now that the bandage is peeled off, we don’t really have any other option.

And the corps clearly care more about quarterly profots over people.

The victims of abuse certainly deserve more help than a bunch of vigilantes. I wish we got more help, but it’s the cards we’re fucking dealt with.

awhich is why I am so conflicted. I know fucking lives are at stake. But reality also has proven that the powers that be, be it governments, corporations, home owner associations, unions, even small companies, any organized group CAN and WILL use all sorts of bullshit to grab and entrench themselves into the structures they built.

I’ve been there. Done the mod shit too. It requires an amount of understanding and empathy for people even I don’t trust myself to have.

And I honestly want to keep those tools on the table too, to protect those who can’t and won’t speak out of fear, so that they can speak in peace and safety.

We are that fucked, boyo. That we have to start discussing if these things should be on the table. And this conversation should not be happening.

But that’s the cards we’re dealt with.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Let me disabuse you of a few things here:

I’ve never seen any such vigilance, but I come from an upbringing that never imparted the illusion that the United States (or frankly any other country) is a free society. There is no bandage for people like me to pull away because it was always an oozing wound of oppression. Maybe as queer Native woman, I had far less chances for illusion, but my perspective is that ever since 1492 the Western hemisphere has been a constant stage of atrocity against people just like me. That is the foundation the US was built on, and the materials it’s built from. And at the same time, my ancestors in Europe were being persecuted for their religion. Part of why I have no patience for coddlers of fascists that often appear commenting their crocodile tears about free speech, people you need to learn are simply perverse little fascists. Boyo.

I’m unsure why anyone would think corporations have helping people as a priority; at best they provide services as a way to monetize help people need (and would get for free in a ‘Free Society’), generally they simply serve their only prerogative. That prerogative is usually profit, so naturally quarterly reports matter where people never have. People are employees to a corporation, and frankly as fungible as lightbulbs in the corporations’ perspectives. Like replacing a burnt-out lightbulb. In the history of the United States, corporations have hired private militias that have persecuted, harassed, and killed workers. Some such corporations, such as the Pinkerton Agency, are themselves the foundation and inspiration for federal police forces.

I can see why you’re conflicted, but I am not. As I see it, this entire place is made of five-centuries deep entrenched bullshit. The closest I come to feeling conflicted is in hoping people like me can salvage something from a world filled with settler-colonial states and makes something ACTUALLY good and free, instead of the false promises that people apparently believe. I only ever see things moving in that direction when Black and Brown women are doing the leading and motivating. Perspective is a funny thing, because for a long time it was shocking to me that what is obvious to me is somehow arcane or obscured to people like yourself.

You don’t seem to realize that tools like moderation remain available in situations that aren’t filled with bigots harassing people to death. Some dickhead above said that targeting trans people was an invisible line these Nazi fucks crossed. That’s incorrect for so many reasons, least of which is that they had been harassing trans people from the beginning, as well as people that care about them. It’s a pretty fucking clear line where moderators become pointless in some cases, and one such clear line is organizing harassment campaigns that result in actual harm to people, targeted against marginalized people. I’ve never seen anyone give a fuck about that except the victims, which as I said is the real line that was crossed in the hate-forum context: they fucked with the wrong person. Who then mobilized a bunch of other victims and the people that actually gave a shit about them.

That’s vigilantism, but one could also call it community solidarity and standing up to bullies. The only people who will ever do that are people who actually have your back, not people who really only see you as number with some associated names. That is, not governments, not cops, not corporations, not churches, none of that shit. Those people have all been in on oppressing the most marginalized people from the beginning, and the further away one is from that the easier it is to never notice it’s a problem in the first place apparently. Or to not be invested in seeing it as a serious problem even if you do see it.

The cards I’m dealt are knowing that people lie me are kidnapped off roads and never found, or found in ditches, found in woods, founds as the barest remains after being eaten by the pigs of the farmer that kidnapped and killed you, the people that kidnap you and lock you in a barn for their own amusement. I see cards showing the only people that helped those women and girls avoid that fate are themselves. That’s the reality I grew up with, as well as the reality that by the time anyone with power or responsibility or authority does something about it, victims that had looked like me in life would already be dead.

And here it is, the same thing happening to trans people, Black and Brown women especially. It feels awfully familiar, reading about trans women disappearing and only being found months later, perhaps again in a ditch or washed up on the banks of a river. Some people see this as a concern of enabling a government to do worse things, but it already does enough bad simply through inaction. That’s not to mention cops being the perpetrators of these kidnappings and murders and quite often rapes, which their jobs give them the resources to do on a serial basis without being caught. There has never been real accountability for race-based hate, because the systems of accountability insulated racists from the very foundation of the American government; a government used as a template by many ‘free societies’ that came after.

Also a template Nazis used to murder civilians en masse for being part of marginalized groups they wanted extinct, starting with disabled people but also including Black people (hunted in gangs, not put in camps), nomadic people, trans and other queer people, and obviously Jewish people. Quite similar to the system President Lincoln imposed on Natives in America, including feeding people just enough food to die slowly on. No, all I hope is someday we can make this better, but it’s an uphill battle out of centuries of bullshit as I said.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Firstly, I thank you for reminding me that there are people who have not only wildly different experiences, but also that I need to keep learning. It is a constant thing I have to remind myself of.

Secondly, I can offer my apologies. Those are not cards I would deal to msot people.

Thirdly, I am Singaporean, and for the majority, it’s an extremely safe, relatively “well-run” country. The cops rarely show how fascistic they are, and only when politics are involved. Most of the pure and utter shitshow that is Singapore gets drowned by the “good PR” being a successful, well-run shithole infinitely generates, to the point where even citizens of other countries, and YES, including Russian refugees, want to go to. So forgive me for “flaunting” my “privilege”.

I am merely a product of my own environment and upbringing and I’m still learning about other people’s lives, and it’s sobering.

Again, I agree that moderation should not be off the table, despite the obvious bullshit and not-so-obvious bullshit. I know that a garden needs to be weeded to make it more beautiful, a bar needs to kick out troublesome patrons to function, etc…

And that sort of colonial bullshit? Yeah, it also happened to my neck of the woods. And the government in Southeast Asia, despite their own experiences (both from the Europeans AND the Japanese), adapted the worst excesses of those occupations, made those excesses worse, and entrenched it as LAW.

Again, you’re probably familiar with that. And I apologize if I’m being presumptious.

And while I hope that we all can salvage something that can be good, free and respecting of everyone, I do not believe in hope. If we have to build that future, we’ll havbe to do whatever it takes. Murder, treason, violent revolutions, assassinations, all the stuff governments have made illegal. Even Gene Roddenbury knew that.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

I appreciate your response in all seriousness, I realize I was harsh and you responded by being open-minded and understanding my frustration with this situation. Though I also want to say, it’s not just/necessarily privilege but perspective and context as you point out.

What you said deserves a response, but one thing occurs to me: your complaints about censorship are valid, but part of the problem is that society self-censors, simply not knowing things or where to learn of them acts as a sort of non-censorship obscuring of knowledge. If you don’t know the right questions or ask, or what to look for… how can you get a more comprehensive understanding of the world around you and the problems?

That’s not a problem unique to you, I know. I have that problem too, so does everyone. Someone on our site wrote an essay about issues with and barriers in language and perspective, but I don’t know if they posted it. I’ve only read part of a draft, but basically the conclusions it leads me to is that we have to work harder to communicate, cooperate and find solutions even if it’s an imperfect process.

You seem earnest, and some of what you’ve said has reminded me of solutions other people have used and some of their modern equivalents. It’s actually given me some thoughts about non-violent revolution that I think your government’s own increasingly-totalitarian nature might enable.

I’ll say more later, but I think a government’s stagnancy and need for control become a self-sabotaging cause of their own stultification. That may be the world’s best defense against Chinese neo-imperialism (as it’s been against Americans and Russians, and the other groups of colonizers you mention that preceded them in both neo-colonialism and colonialism) and your own best defense against the multiple governments including your own.

You mention Lenin, but I think we’ve got a few better options than he did & we can learn from the mistakes of the Russian revolutions. Armed revolution usually doesn’t work out so well in the long run, because it legitimizes the use of force and tends to concentrate power around people who are basically just warlords (like Stalin is an example). Those people then control internal narratives, perhaps most helpful warning Eric Blair wrote into his frankly-overrated pieces of propaganda (1984 and Animal Farm); I feel like the DPRK may be the best example of this, though China obviously has done it to an excessive degree (those ‘cool’ COVID-tracker wristbands), as has Russia as of late with suppressing anti-war news. You already had that going on though, with the excuse that controlling people means everything will be nice and orderly. Equally you know that niceness and such comes of ignoring those who get ground to nothing by it, building invisible fences not just around you but within you.

To cut this reply short, I just think that works differently in countries that use concepts of freedom and liberty to cover from socioeconomic inequality and centuries of oppressions; the problems that make some people freer and happier tend to get paved over. And every time they push back up through the concrete, there’s a gaslighting effect that makes it seem like a new problem instead of a problem that exists in continuity to the base problems that enable such unequal freedom.

Eesh, I need to make sure to finish drinking my coffee before starting replies though.

Synonymous Scaredycat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

In the same way Trump is one of them too, making excuses for them. That’s why I included Trump’s loving euphemism for his fascist friends. People like them couldn’t have done it without their legion of fanboys and the occasional weirdo that lusts after them in a sexual manner (in Trump’s case, the mom of the Oakland shooter apparently had the hots for Trump; like wtf). I tend to think of the rocket manchild’s followers as more like the most devoted of stans, dude can literally do no wrong in their eyes.

Remember, they see all his fails as some kind of success; like idea all his business failures taught him lessons so he could be better at business. Or the common response we see about the Twitter deal that indicates every foolish move by him is just X-dimensional chess to his stans. If you ask, them he’s a proud African who left because he hated apartheid; if you bring up the anti-Black racism that runs through his companies the act like it’s ‘fake news’ or clam up because they don’t have a way to spin it beyond weak denials.

Again, I want to bring up Jackson Palmer calling him essentially a talentless grifter who can’t code. Which if you look at his ‘engineering’ and ‘innovations’, extends to him not really knowing shit about engineering and totally capable of coming up with ideas he didn’t steal from a 1940s science fiction novel. They can’t accept that he really didn’t do anything to get where he is aside from have enough resources and be in the right time at the right place.

Nah, he’s not simply ‘one of them’, he’s the one they’re hoisting up on their shoulders, singing ‘for he’s a jolly good fellow’ about. And that’s somehow more perverse than him simply being one of many pointless bigots with too much money.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

LostInLoDOS (profile) says:

As I said

…Be it AWS or Cloud or anyone else. When this level gets involved in moderation, which is their legal right, they paint a target on themselves.

Having the power does not mean a need to use it.

As of yet nobody, absolutely nobody, has shown that the actual sites themselves have committed any crime.
Banishment relates to pre crime. Not a good ledge to be standing on!

Anonymous Coward says:


Cloudflare? Yeah, they have yet to commit crimes… yet. Matthew Price, though, he should be investigated for abetting terrorism, apart from his company.

Kiwifarms, well, if harassment isn’t a crime…

And mind you, I don’t think Keffals is clean herself. Anyone who supports bypassing a team of actual doctors, mental health professionals and therapists is one hell of a no bueno in my book. Even if Texas is hot garbage for trans people. (No comment on her deviancy, even her words have to be verified.)

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And walling off the problem isn’t gonna help matters.

That didn’t stop white supremacists from moving into /pol/ and making 4chan worse than it already is. That didn’t stop assholes from posting actual child pornography onto /b/. In fact, it just made matters worse. And when moot decided that Gamergate was too much of a shitshow even for the shithole known as 4chan, those fuckers who were offended by this act of actual moderation went on to create 8chan/8kun, whose history we all fucking know.

Ignoring a problem only means you won’t do jack shot about a problem until it becomes too big and cancerous to ignore. If that’s what you’re implying.

That if at all possible, infrastructure providers ignore possible ToS breaches and/or actual rulebreaking until the FBI comes aknockin’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If you’re referring to Kiwifarms and The Daily Stormer…

The former is a doxxing site/gossip site that has harassed a bunch of people before. The latter is a tool of white supremacists.

The CEO of Cloudflare seems to be a supporter of both and apparently was not too happy to have to tell them to bugger off.

Techdirt has not called for anyone to harass anyone, to my knowledge.

This was meant to be a reply to someone claiming that people, not sites, do harassment. And I don’t know exactly how the reply became its own comment.

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