After a series of bans by payment providers, Joshua Conner Moon the owner of Kiwi Farms had created a website to hide the payment provider used to receive donations to his website. A number of concerns arose about the site, called lolcow.us, including breaches of numerous compliance rules. Impressively, this week their acquirer bank terminated them after receiving concerns I had sent to the card network, MasterCard. Furthermore, terminated merchants are automatically added to a blacklist that (depending on the reasons) can make it hard or impossible to find a new provider to receive card payments in future.
Joshua Conner Moon, the owner of Kiwi Farms is an extreme embarrassment to the alt-right and to the causes he claims to support, such as “Free Speech”.
For some time Kiwi Farms has been moving from host to host and from payment provider to payment provider. A lot of work was done on this last year and in the end Joshua Moon created a bespoke donations website to hide his merchant bank / provider.
The intent was to prevent further terminations. For those opposed to Kiwi Farms the challenge has been to find a more permanent way to prevent Kiwi Farms simply moving on each time there is a problem.
When Moon set up lolcow.us he could have gone legitimate. There were some minor problems with the site but initially they would not have been apparent. True to form however, Moon failed to do so.
Any payment provider that accepts cards will be bound by MasterCard rules (and VISA rules for that matter). These are extremely lengthy legal documents that take a long time to read. Fundamentally however, the organisations that provide card services to merchants must make them comply with the rules.
Aside from numerous technical and compliance flaws, suspicions of illegal activity were created, for example by the aborted theft of thousands of dollars in May. That is aside from issues with user privacy, data security and breach of rules intended to prevent the risk of fraud or money laundering.
I raised some of these issues formally with VISA and MasterCard, referring by number to relevant sections of the rules. I received an incredibly impressive comment from a very senior spokesperson,
“First and foremost, we share your disdain for products that promote racism, bigotry or other forms of hatred. Mastercard in no way supports or condones the views that these sites promote.
We believe that offensive speech will be seen for what it is in the open marketplace of ideas. For that reason, we generally do not prohibit the acceptance of Mastercard-branded payment cards by merchants based on our disagreement with specific views espoused or promoted.
As a point of reference, you should note that Mastercard does not issue payment cards, nor does it contract with merchants to accept those cards. That is the role of banks and credit unions.
Our teams are and will remain vigilant in policing the use of our network, but with an estimated one billion websites live today, this is an ongoing process. If we are made aware of something that is illegal or in violation with our rules, as we were with your letter, we reach out to the merchant’s bank to ensure the activity ceases. Additionally, we require the merchant’s bank conduct ongoing due diligence with regard to their merchant customers.
That is the process that was followed in this instance and the merchant’s bank has advised us that they are terminating acceptance at this time.”
MasterCard took a very careful process driven view. They did not simply take my word for it or react to Josh’s incredibly bigoted views. Instead they asked the acquiring bank to consider matters in terms of lawfulness and compliance. MasterCard, like Gab, believe in free speech within the law.
I had explained that the Kiwi Farms donation system had started with the appearance of lawfulness and doubtless fooled many well meaning free-speech proponents into making donations. However, before long the site turned increasingly dark and there were clear breaches.
Indeed, after being notified by MasterCard of the termination, I was told by a source that Kiwi Farms were openly allowing a hacker going by, “FancyBear” to post displaying the results of his hacks of a victim in real time. I found this bizarre. The use of hacked material is what finally got Hunter Moore of “Is Anyone Up?” arrested and convicted. Moore had conspired with a hacker who stole nudes to post on his site.
Even Moore, however, did it in secret. Only Kiwi Farms would be dumb enough to have a public forum thread, archive it themselves (archive held but not shown here) and openly discuss the hack in real time. True to their pathetic form they are not even seeking nudes, just any material to laugh at their victim. Section 230 Communications Decency Act does not apply to criminal acts of this nature.
If I need further evidence, I know where to look. However, it may not matter. Any merchant terminated by a card acquirer is automatically placed on the “Terminated Merchants File”, a list maintained by MasterCard and VISA. There is a site explaining here. Regardless of where the merchant goes, to which bank or provider, their name and those of their Principals (in this case Lolcow LLC and Joshua Conner Moon) will be flagged on the MATCH system.
It is extremely unlikely that Moon will be able to obtain any facility to accept card payments for any business for the next 5 years. Anyone who helps him do so by agreeing to accept payments on his behalf risks being in the same position. Any fraudulent or deceptive activity could have worse consequences. In some cases individuals can be banned from even having a basic bank account.
By continuing to engage in his vile persecution of the vulnerable Moon is destroying any chance at a legitimate occupation. Earlier this year he said that Kiwi Farms would be his crutch and support him financially. It will not be allowed to do so. If, as he claims, Moon is now in a third world country he will now find it very hard to receive monies from supporters in the US. Any attempt to circumvent the situation is likely to make it worse.
After being terminated by their bank, Kiwi Farms have tried to move to another provider, Hatreon. I applaud Hatreon for fighting for free speech but hosting Kiwi Farms is likely to expose them to risks such as being used for fraud. They may also risk fines and / or termination by the card networks. I have already reached out to founder Cody Wilson and I suspect he will take swift action.
KF Account now ‘under review’ on Hatreon, demonstrating wisdom and leadership on the part of the proprietor.