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.


19 thoughts on “CATHY BRENNAN IS A FAKE GOTH??

  1. 1

    This is one of the many reasons I’ve been minimizing my participation on Facebook. They bill themselves as a progressive and LGBT-friendly company, but under the hood they allow hate speech against us while allowing our oppressors to silence us. Their oppressive “real names” policy is still in force, despite their claims to the contrary. They still require “female” or “male” to be specified on sign-up (even though you can customize your gender later), and they still only allow “women” and “men” to be listed as people you’re “interested in.” What really matters to them is advertising revenue, not human rights.

    Regardless, yes, TERFs suck. Goth or otherwise.

    1. 1.1

      Yes on all accounts. I wish I could use it less, but it’s my primary form of social interaction. And the environment I’ve cultivated there is hard to get together anywhere else. Bluh.

  2. 3

    I was curious too and went to Brennan’s page. She keeps posting pages and posts that say “Cathy Brennan is a fake goth” and asking her followers to “like and share.” I think “like and share” is actually code for “harass and report.” I think that’s how she’s not getting flagged and everyone else is. That’s the only conclusion I can come to that makes any sense.

  3. 4

    Last week Facebook sent me pushed messages to read Gender Trender. As a trans women who has had run in’s with this women I could not believe that a page that supports hate against me personally was recommended to me. I would love to quit Facebook but I need it professionally. I guess I just have to put up with hate.

  4. 8

    FB needs a serious overhaul in who’s reviewing reports because whoever is doing so (individually or as a group) is directly subverting the stated “community standards”, ‘cuz this is some bullshit.

  5. 9

    I was suspended from facebook for 3 days for saying that she was immature for even caring that strangers on the internet think she is a fake goth.

    Way too old for that pre-teen bullshit.

    I bet she lives off SSI if she is that nuts with that much time on her hands to search her own name.

  6. 10

    This really doesn’t surprise. Facebook banned Rapebook, but allowed scum to continue posting threats of rape.

    If I ever start posting controversial or critical stuff on facebook, I’ll be sure to create and use a fake account to do it, not my social one.

  7. 13

    I wonder if part of the flagging and removing mechanism is bound up in how many people report an image or post. Since many individuals have been unable to remove posts outing them personally, and are justifiably reluctant to share or ask others to report in kind, Cathy the fake goth’s sharing effectively alerts her followers to report posts quickly and en-masse. The system isn’t smart, and therefore corruptible.

  8. 14

    My suspicion is that CB argues posts made about her are harassment, despite whether or not the content is completely innocuous, and also despite the fact that this would not violate the Community Standards. Facebook’s description of the moderation policy explicitly states it is semi-automated and is not affected by the volume of reports the reported content accrues… something I have trouble believing. There is the possibility that the automation has learned over time that any public post containing “Cathy Brennan” is likely to be harassment (we all know that people post things about Cathy Brennan that are, shall we say, explicitly against the Community Standards) and all it takes is for her and her cronies to make a report or two, and the automated moderation process will follow through with it.

    What she may have cultivated, inadvertently, or perhaps even purposefully somehow, is a level of protection granted by the Facebook moderation algorithms that has been amplified by the volume of reports she can manage to make about content that contains her name. This may work in the favor of someone who, say, has garnered the attention of 4chan or MRAs or Gamergate or whatever, who also largely enact harassment through social media.

    However, this is a contradiction of the Community Standards themselves, and not just because posts with no actual offensive content are resulting in swift bans. The Community Standards allow “open and critical discussion of people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities”. That would easily describe Cathy Brennan, no problem. Obviously the Community Standards don’t allow death threats or calls to violence or hate speech. Calling someone a “fake goth” is obviously not that, though. It isn’t even explicitly criticism of her! It is more like self-actualizing criticism of Facebook moderation practices, and everyone seems to be able to prove that point. And although I think the moderation interface has changed even in the past 3 months, you’re still correct in saying that there is no way to actually air this grievance with Facebook moderation.

    I did the same sort of thing you did–posted a status update that was basically bait for CB to report me. I did it a few times, got a few temporary bans. I was mostly just pissed off ’cause I thought, hey, since I’m a cis man, she can waste her time and energy harassing me instead of trans women and I’m taking an infinitely smaller risk by attracting her attention.

    Something interesting happened yesterday, however. Three months later, I was banned again for posts I had made three months ago. Keeping in mind that we do definitively know that the moderation process is both automated and, frankly, terrible, the kicker is that I put this in the post: “if this post is reported and deleted that would be in contradiction to the community standards, which permit open and *critical* discussion of a public figure, defined as someone who is in the news and has a large public following”. And… I was banned simultaneously for *another* post which also contained this text (and some vulgar comments but not anything that could be construed as against the community standards). Implying that they were reported simultaneously… I didn’t even know that was possible.

    It gets better. I thought it was almost as if something had reminded Cathy Brennan to search for her name or “fake goth” on Facebook, and she came upon my 3 month old bait in the process. Sure enough, at almost exactly the time that I had been banned, surely within a few hours if not less, someone had taken a potshot at her on Twitter specifically about the whole “fake goth” thing, and she responded.

    If this isn’t proof of the ease in which CB can get someone banned simply by saying her name publicly with anything even remotely critical, then I don’t know what is.

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