If you've wondered how hate proliferates online, especially since the divisive 2016 election, ProPublica has some answers.
The company also turns over contact information of anyone who complains about a hate site to the site's operators. That policy has exposed people complaining about online hate to personal harassment, ProPublica reported.
ProPublica cited a 2013 blog post by CEO Matthew Price that said the company didn't have an obligation to monitor the websites that use its services. Cloudflare lawyer Doug Kramer told Propublica the company turned over the names of complainants because it is "base constitutional law that people can face their accusers."
Kramer said in a statement Friday that Cloudflare is reviewing the instances of retaliation outlined by ProPublica.
"Cloudflare processes thousands of abuse reports in a given week. Because we do not host content, and turning off Cloudflare's services would not remove the content from the Internet, we work to connect people to the website hosts who do control the content. We were aware several years ago, that some website owners were using information from our reports to retaliate against complaining parties. This was an infrequent occurrence, but one that was very concerning to us. So, in early 2015 we implemented a change in our practices to pass along information only to the hosting provider, and not the website owner, when complaints raised issues that could be sensitive. We continue to review the instances outlined in the article to determine how to best handle them and see if there are any other steps we need to take to change the process. Since that time, we have not seen similar abuses of the system, though we continue to watch this area closely and consider additional changes to make sure the abuse process supports helpful outcomes but limits opportunities for retaliation."
Update, May 5 at 1:42 p.m. PT: Adds statement from Cloudflare.