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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 1, 2024

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The War on Kiwi Farms: The Kiwis Fight Back

I'm sure everyone here knows of the controversial site Kiwi Farms, which has been endlessly accused of facilitating online harassment, and endlessly deplatformed. The site's defense has always been that it doesn't do that, the content is completely legal in the United States, and it's just a neutral observer, and with very limited exceptions (namely protecting Chris Chan until 2021, and interfering with zoosadists), I've found that to largely be the case. But I always wondered if this attitude left them vulnerable to just being attacked endlessly like this. Like, if bad actors know that this site won't actually fight back in any way, wouldn't you expect that they would just relentlessly attack it, since they're more-or-less free to do it?

Well, recently, they've actually started doing it. They're using the tactics that have been most effective in deplatforming them, and turning it on others. Namely, filing abuse complaints with upstreams and accusing sites of violating their AUP (which stands for Acceptable Use Policy). Their first target, thematically enough for an anti-trans site, is DIY HRT, as in HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) that isn't dispensed directly from a licensed pharmacy, often homemade and imported in to the country from shady international sources.

DIY HRT sites exist in a very legal gray area, because they more-or-less undeniably facilitate the sale of unlicensed pharmaceuticals. There have been credible reports of the drugs being manufactured in really unsafe and unclean conditions, leading to issues like clearly visible human hair in a vial that's meant to be injected into your bloodstream. Furthermore, the demographic they serve raises child welfare concerns - children are the demographic most likely to be unable to access legal HRT and/or want to keep their HRT on the down low from others - and some of the marketing/labeling on the items is quite blatant (in one case, text reads "Keep away from parents" and the image is of a childlike figure). Naturally, these are the reasons Kiwi Farms uses to file abuse complaints with upstreams. And they're doing it quite openly - there's a public thread on the site where they coordinate and give information on filing abuse complaints. So has it worked?

Looking at the DIY HRT wiki, they list several DIY HRT sites that have been taken down by complaints, so certainly looks like it has. It's gotten to the point that I had to look through an archive of the DIY HRT wiki, because I couldn't connect to the live site. The irony is that, just like Kiwi Farms themselves, the sites haven't actually been taken down for good - they just hop to another web host, domain registrar, email provider, and they're back in business. And the biggest irony of all is that the DIY HRT camp don't have any recourse for this. On their subreddit, one person asks "What is stopping doing the same to KF?" and the answer is "It has been done to KF already." What are they going to do exactly, attempt to take down a site that has spent years hardening itself against being taken down? One is reminded of the Chinese parable where the penalty for being late is death. They can't be more mean to Kiwi Farms, because trans activists have already spent years being as maximally mean as possible to Kiwi Farms, kicking them out of almost every single web host and domain registrar in the world, and all that has resulted in is a horde of people pissed off that their site is being taken down by trans activism, now radicalized against the trans movement. They've been put in a situation where they can either lose, or lose but also take down others with them, and in that respect I don't blame them for finally, finally, starting to fight back.

Their first target, thematically enough for an anti-trans site, is DIY HRT,

Are they anti-trans, or just interested in a few laughs by stalking insane people making fools of themselves on the internet, a disproportionate number of whom are trans because of selection effects?

If your goal is to milk lolcows, then very online transpeople would be a great target.

Well duh, if you’re picking insane people on the internet to stalk, you’d have to deliberately exclude Trans people not to get a very disproportionately trans sample. That’s basically what I said, but it doesn’t make kiwifarms ideologically anti-trans(although I doubt they’re politically correct).

Kiwi Farms isn't a monolith; there are some people on there who are sympathetic to transgender concerns. That said, the overwhelming majority are definitely anti-trans. I'm not implying that this means that the site is deliberately anti-trans or anything; it's a combination of their thread subjects being disproportionately transgender (as previously mentioned), but also the fact that many other gender-critical spaces elsewhere on the internet have been shut down thus funneling many would-be GC Reddit/Tumblr users onto the site, as well as the fact that many don't even care about trans issues and just want to laugh at weird people but have essentially been forced into caring due to the many attacks on the site (no doubt by the same activists shutting down anti-trans thought on the rest of the internet). If they were left alone, half of the anti-trans sentiment would disappear overnight.

I suspect that a trans movement capable of producing activists that leave kiwifarms alone also would not produce so many lolcows.