Alright, y’all. Just be aware that I’m super pissed off about this, but I’m gonna try not to rage too hard. CN for transphobia.
So, Cathy Brennan. She’s a Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) who is notorious within the trans community for her website “Gender Identity Watch” and its affiliated Facebook pages. On the Facebook pages, there has been a history of outing and harassing trans women. Brennan also appears in meatspace, with one notable picture of her holding a paper cutout of a person with the crotch circled, and the text reading, “Sorry about your dick.”
She’s an awful person.
I’m told that on her Twitter, she has “goth” in her bio. From what I understand, at some point someone said she was a fake goth, most likely in response to Brennan’s stance that trans women are fake women.
This has taken off, with many many of my Facebook friends posting, simply, “Cathy Brennan is a fake goth.”
Before I go any further, let me just clarify that I don’t give a shit about whether Brennan is a real or fake goth. I was called a fake goth in middle/high school and it literally didn’t matter. It literally doesn’t matter whether Brennan is a goth.
However, almost all of the posts that went up saying she was a fake goth have been reported and taken down. (At least, the publicly viewable ones that have her name actually in the text.) These posts have been confirmed as violating community standards and removed.
Naturally, I wanted to poke the bear and see if I could post something and get it taken down. Here was the exact text of the post:
This is an experiment:
Cathy Brennan is a fake goth.
Clearly just an experiment, but the post was taken down anyway. I posted a screenshot of the message I received telling me that the post was taken down, and laughed. No big deal; I ran an experiment and got the result I expected.
Here’s where things start to get infuriating.
A little while later, I wrote this:
Can we all just reflect for a moment on the fact that Cathy Brennan flagged and had taken down a post that was explicitly an experiment to see if she would flag it and take it down?
And, UNBELIEVABLY, this happened:
I was blocked from logging in to Facebook for 24 hours, and now that I can log in, I’m unable to post, comment, react to posts, send messages, OR post on my Pages. The last one is annoying because I have a YouTube video scheduled to go up today and I won’t be able to post the link to the page thanks to this. (I have no idea when the ban lifts. It is clearly longer than just the advertised 24 hours.)
I’ve read through the Community Standards, because it prompts you to do so when you’re in Facebook Jail and I was VERY interested to see HOW IN THE HOLY HELL that second post counted as a violation. Fun fact: It really, really doesn’t.
Once able to log in again, I started looking through the Help Center to see if there’s some way to report being falsely reported. Fun fact: There really, really isn’t.
As far as I’ve been able to find, there’s no way to contest whether the content you posted was, in fact, against community standards. There’s no way to fight back against being silenced for merely commenting on the fact that someone flagged your content and had it taken down.
By now, we’ve probably all seen something that’s obviously hate speech get reported, and Facebook does nothing. Occasionally, they do take action. For example, apparently at one point I reported the page “Gender Identity Watch Reloaded” and it was removed. But it seems like that only happens a fraction of the time, and is the result of coordinated efforts to have as many people as possible report the hate speech.
Meanwhile, you have private individuals, making innocuous statements and observations, being put in Facebook Jail and threatened with a permanent account ban.
Cathy, dude, you just need to stop obsessively searching your own name on Facebook. Also, can I just ask: What is your magic trick for getting content removed? ‘Cause we have a helluva time getting actual, genuinely hateful content taken off, but you can get “Cathy Brennan is a fake goth” taken down every single time someone posts it. Seriously, what’s the trick?
At this point, I have taken the only action available to me, and that is to give feedback via the Help Center. I gave them a rundown of what happened, pointed out that the second post is most definitely not in violation of any community standards, and told them it’s bullshit that there’s no recourse for people in my situation.
I expect nothing to come of this, and from now on I’m not allowed to make jokes at Cathy Brennan’s expense, lest I lose one of the most important means of communication I have. Not to mention years of pictures, life events, and my professional page for my gaming channel.
This is what being harassed looks like. I poked the bear, and the fake goth bear got pissed off. I’ll see your silencing of my Facebook platform and raise you a blog post on a professional network about how shitty of a person you are. Have fun silencing me here.