Burying the Evidence, Accidentally or Otherwise

One way to mis-handle a problem is to just keep on trucking. Another is to actively bury it. That might seem impossible in the internet age, but not only is the internet gradually losing information, it’s opened up whole new ways to bury things.

Speaking of denying you, if you go to check any of [Rachel] Oates’ videos or live streams referenced throughout any of our exposés, only to discover that they’re no longer available, this is because Oates has taken to deleting and privating said evidence. Now, we’d originally prepared for this possibility by mirroring key pieces, unpublished, linking said mirror below the link to her original. Sadly, Rachel Oates saw this as an opportunity to abuse YouTube’s copyright system to try and have the channel taken down. The string of DMCA claims Oates filed put the channel a single strike away from the three required to be deleted, permanently, putting the future of the channel and my sole source of income as a trans person in jeopardy. We naturally won our appeals over the coming weeks, leading YouTube to reinstate said videos. Yet we decided that it was best to remove them to prevent Rachl[sic] Oates filing further DMCA takedowns from different channels, continuing to legally harass us or even potentially spreading out said claims so that she got the necessary three strikes.

This was my inspiration for circling back to old controversies: Rachel Oates has been trying to hide the evidence of past misbehaviour, and in a rather clever way. Don’t want people to see something? Delete it. Someone else mirrors or clips from the deleted content? Not only can you abuse the copyright system to have those mirrors taken down, do it often enough and you can financially harm the person trying to hold you accountable!

You can verify these disappearances yourself; in this video, Oates references a “certain YouTuber who we all know spread some lies about me” in a previous livestream. One of EssenceOfThought’s earlier scripts claims this link leads to said livestream, where the “certain YouTuber” is revealed to be EoT herself, but if you follow it now you’ll find the video is private. This link is provided as a mirror, but follow it and you’ll find a deleted video. So when EoT claims Oates’ “certain YouTuber” is EoT there’s no way for a third party to verify that. Oates is also free to gaslight us about what she really said in that video.

In this case, at least, there’s a way to independently provide some support to EoT’s claims. Oates has a popular YouTube channel, and sometimes those get vacuumed up by the Internet Archive. Sure enough, if we plug in the private video’s URL, we get a glimpse of what used to be there: a video titled “August Live Stream” on Oates’ YouTube channel with the exact 2019 date EoT gave. You can’t watch the video and comments are unavailable, so we can’t actually verify she said what EoT claims she did, but it does count as weak evidence towards that. The chat was never captured, but if you click play, and fast-forward to the one hour, one minute mark (thirty-six seconds before EoT’s given timestamp)…

[1:00:59] Sorry, I’m trying to keep up with the chat here, I’m a bit lost; there’s lots of stuff about Jessica Yaniv and EssenceOfThought at the same time. And vegan stuff! [types away, pauses, starts laughing] Everyone’s picking up on “doo-doo head.” [long pause] So, next thing you know, EssenceOfThought is going to be making another video on me that’s going to be “Rachel Oates Exposed!” And he’s going to be like “look, she called me a doo-doo head!” [unintelligible] is gonna get mad.
[… after more silent pauses and apartment talk…]
[1:03:01] Oh Lizzie, don’t worry; EssenceOfThought says everyone harasses him constantly, I wouldn’t worry too much. Like I say: “victim mentality.” [returns to chat, starts laughing] “BestI’veEver” says: I knew she was bad, she called me a doo-doo head!

There are other ways to bury evidence, however. Remember that mammoth post I published on Rachel Oates and EssenceOfThought four years ago? Try following some of the links today. Rachel Oates’ Twitter profile was deleted, and EssenceOfThought was suspended from Twitter for unknown reasons after Musk’s purchase, so a lot of context is missing. You can still find Lizzie Lang’s concession that EoT wanted her to leave “the church” rather than end her life, but Lang now goes by “Geeky Thiomargarita” and even Twitter’s URL has changed to reflect that. I recently updated the post with some Tweets from “Rose Dieghan,” but I had to use the Internet Archive to retrieve them as that user was long since suspended from Twitter. The Archive is a valuable resource, you can use it to revive most of the dead links on that post in fact, but thanks to a lawsuit it too may disappear. Most of the omissions have benign explanations, but an omission is still an omission. My blog post is one of the few places on the internet that has the text of EoT’s clarification and apology for the Tweet that touched off months of harassment, and this lack of sources makes it easier to rewrite the past. Link rot has consequences.

By the same token, creating and maintaining archives can be of immense value. Just ask EoT:

Quick note, I will be referencing the work of HJ Hornbeck from FreeThought Blogs as they put together an amazing play by play breakdown of what happened, all of which is linked and thus can be accessed via the Internet Archive. Hornbeck uses Mountain Daylight Time, so that’s what I’ll be using for simplicity’s sake, keeping in mind that Indian Standard time is 11 and a ½ hours ahead.

I’d intended to blog about this months ago, but my sluggishness has led to a very different post. EssenceOfThought hasn’t posted a new video in three weeks, as I type this, when they usually do weekly videos and the last one on the channel is part four of five. What gives? I have a hunch this is a factor:

This Disclaimer Is Being Added Upon Legal Counsel To Highlight The Importance Of This Video In Public Interest.
With the publishing of this video we must acknowledge the fact that Rachel Oates has had a solicitor send us a Cease & Desist. After reviewing the content of her claims we decided to go ahead with the publishing. Not only are her claims easily rebuked, but this video is particularly vital from a trans community perspective, as explained in the chapter titled ‘How Rachel Oates Harmed The Trans Community’ (see – 01:29:45). My fellow members of the trans community have a right to know how narratives such as those built on the actions of persons such as Rachel Oates contribute, in part, to the ongoing efforts to eradicate and otherwise harm trans people, including by silencing our voices in both the UK and the US. My fellow trans people have a right to know the truth of her actions, because only in said knowledge can they truly remain safe from those who would go to any lengths to silence criticism instead of taking accountability.

Ah yes, the pre-internet way of burying the evidence: suing people in order to shut them up. If you’ve hung around FtB long enough you’ve seen this tactic in action, and you’ll know it’s expensive to defend yourself against lawsuits. Oates filed this lawsuit against EoT way back in 2022, in fact.

So quick update, I filed a defamation claim against EoT’s video and Youtube agreed with me that it is in violation the UK’s defamation laws and so have restricted it from being played in the UK. EoT is now saying they want to ‘take me to court’ and will ‘try to get my channel terminated’. I know EoT thinks this doesn’t matter because they think I’m an ‘upper class’ person with some magical money to fall back on but I’m not. As I’ve always said, I come from a family that had a 4 figure income every year and I’ve got myself to where I today by working 2 jobs while being in full time education. Even now, I’m completely alone and don’t have a partner or family or anyone else I can rely on for financial support, I’m completely alone, and yet EoT still wants to take away my primary source of income just because they don’t like me.

Unlike EoT, I don’t want to take this to court, I don’t want to take away their channel or their income, I just want them to stop talking about me, stop lying about me and leave me alone. It’s what I’ve always wanted.

Except by filing DMCA notices against EoT’s channel, Oates nearly took it offline and took away what EoT says is her primary income. Conversely, there’s no evidence EoT has sued Oates nor filed any DMCA claims against her channel, so the only financial risk to Oates comes from a lawsuit she initiated and can halt at any time. EoT noticed something else:

I want to comment on the line that “Youtube agreed with me that it is in violation [of] the UK’s defamation laws.” YouTube makes it explicitly clear that they cannot legally rule on whether a video has breached defamation law, with their exact words being that they are not “in a position to adjudicate the truthfulness of postings”. For the US, this means the claimant has to go to court to get an order to have the video taken down, yet in the UK they take a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ approach in line with the UK’s draconian defamation laws, hence the block. [3]

You can verify this for yourself by following citation three, which leads you to YouTube’s page on defamation claims. Claim you’re from the USA, where defamation is hard to prove, and you get a block of text that says YouTube will only act if you drop them a copy of a court order via mail; claim you’re from the UK, and you get a terse link to this form which doesn’t even ask for proof of legal proceedings. As for “draconian,” that seems apt when Russian oligarchs can abuse UK defamation law to silence their critics and drain them of a million pounds. In contrast to Oates, most of EoT’s claims check out.

That’s of little comfort when facing a lawsuit that could financially ruin you. Hence why I’m recommending you chip some funds towards EssenceOfThought’s Patreon if you can afford it, and send some positive support to EoT if you can’t. She’s been put through hell for speaking her mind four years ago, and thanks to Oates and others hasn’t been able to put the past behind her.

[HJH 2024-01-07: Did a minor edit to paragraph four, clarifying which claims were made and what those claims were, and fixing an issue where the fold mucked up paragraph spacing. I’m also embarrassed, YouTube makes it clear that you “are not allowed to … download …or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content” except “as expressly authorized by the Service” or “with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders,” so I assumed the Internet Archive couldn’t archive YouTube videos and that “play” button was broken. One click revealed I was horribly wrong, so I double-checked EoT’s quotes are present (rewind to 47:07 for the angry rant containing “..I think it is disgusting and manipulative…”, skip to 1:22:20 for the full context of “…EssenceOfThought was essentially part of our ‘group’…” and a dog cameo), and inserted a quote from Oates that wasn’t sourced from EoT to prove I’d actually watched the now-deleted video. Oh also, I added quotes around “the church” in paragraph six to clarify it was a metaphorical church, and changed “tardiness” to “sluggishness” in paragraph ten.]

[HJH 2024-01-09: Originally I’d said Rachel Oates and EoT had deleted their Twitter profiles. EoT claims that they never deleted their profile, and left the platform under very different circumstances. I’d thought it had been deleted since the message you get when bringing up their old account, “This account doesn’t exist,” isn’t the same as the one for Rose Deighan’s, “Account suspended.” However, since Musk fired 80% of Twitter’s workforce, with predictable consequences, it’s plausible an engineer pushed a different button and made a suspension look like a deletion. I’ve updated paragraph seven with EoT’s claim. In case you were wondering, Rachel Oates’ “profile” is active but claims to have been created in 2021 and has no Tweets; I know of no way to create a new account with the same alias as another without deleting the old account.]