After Kiwi Farms, a far-right hate forum, was knocked offline, Jim Watkins offered the site a lifeline.
When Cloudflare pulled its support for Kiwi Farms, Watkins offered to provide Kiwi Farms protection from cyberattacks through a company called VanwaTech, which Watkins is involved in. Kiwi Farms owner Joshua Moon accepted the offer, though the site is currently barely functioning.
And for Watkins, who helped facilitate the rise of QAnon via his website 8kun, the fallout has been even worse. His own website is now completely offline.
8kun rebranded in 2019 after the original 8chan was deplatformed for hosting a screed written by the perpetrator of the El Paso mass shooting. The site was inaccessible on Friday morning, likely as a result of ongoing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on VanwaTech’s infrastructure, which also protects 8kun.
“By taking on a high-risk target for DDoS like Kiwi Farms, a DDoS of big scale always affects the whole network it's leveled against, not just one server, [so] the quality of service of everyone suffers,” Fred Brennan, the founder of 8chan who is now actively working to bring down the site, tweeted.
The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site, was also inaccessible on Friday morning because it is supported by VanwaTech’s internet infrastructure.
Kiwi Farms, a hate site whose users target, dox, “swat,” and harass individuals and their families, went offline last weekend following a weeks-long campaign by Twitch streamer and trans activist Clara Sorrenti, who is known online as “Keffals.”
Sorrenti launched the campaign to get internet infrastructure company Cloudflare to drop their support for Kiwi Farms after months of attacks against her from the forum. Sorrenti was swatted at her home in London, Ontario, on August 5, and though she fled to Northern Ireland to escape the attacks, they continued.
After Cloudflare pulled its support, Kiwi Farms reappeared online Monday using a Russian-based service called DDoS Guard to prevent the site from being attacked. That service quickly pulled its support and the site went dark again. Days later it reappeared online under VanwaTech’s protection and used a Chinese-administered domain name, something 8kun also uses.
Kiwi Farms has been intermittently online, with many of the site’s features simply not working. On Friday morning, even though Watkins’ own site was offline, Kiwi Farms was loading, though incredibly slowly.
According to Moon’s posts on the site in recent days, Kiwi Farms has been under constant attack since it came back online, and many experts believe that VanwaTech is not capable of protecting the site against the scale of attacks it is likely facing from those who want it taken offline for good.
Nick Lim, the CEO of VanwaTech, did not immediately respond to VICE News' request for comment.
Earlier this week, Lim disputed Watkins’ involvement with the company, but an investigation by Logically in 2020 showed that the company’s codebase had been sold to a company owned by Jim Watkins, and the document proving that transaction is still online.
Additionally, Watkins has repeatedly referred to having inside knowledge of VanwaTech’s operations on his Telegram channel, and in a livestream days before VanwaTech began working with Kiwi Farms, Watkins said that he would be in a position to help the forum come back online.
Like the Daily Stormer, which was first taken offline in 2017, Kiwi Farms is likely to limp on in some form or another for a long time. On Thursday. Moon claimed to “have had an extraordinarily promising phone call” linked to the future of the site, but gave no other details.
For now, Kiwi Farms is unstable and virtually unusable. By forcing Moon to continue to jump through hoops just to keep it online and disrupting its operation, Kiwi Farms' power to target individuals has been taken away—or as Sorrenti describes it, made “completely impotent.”