Violentacrez, a notorious Reddit user who moderated controversial subreddits like Creepshots and Jailbait, was revealed by Gawker on Friday to be a Texas-based IT worker named Michael Brusch. Adrian Chen’s post, “Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web,” painstakingly detailed Mr. Brusch’s dark online history–including the fact that he has created subreddits for submission of racist, sexist and borderline pedophiliac content–and served as the apex of a brewing inter-website war.
Now, Violentacrez has returned to Reddit under his “clean” handle–mbrutsch–in an attempt to explain his side of the story. In a subreddit for point and click adventure games, Mr. Brutsch surfaced, publishing an innocuous link entitled “Tea Break Escape.” But comments on this link quickly turned to Mr. Brutsch and how he is dealing with the fallout from the Gawker article.
In the thread, Mr. Brutsch announced that he was fired on Saturday from his IT job, and that he is worried about being able to acquire health insurance for his sick wife. He has also begun to refer to Violentacrez in third person, perhaps in an effort to distance himself from the online persona he created. “I’m a boringly nice person IRL,” he wrote.
“VA was a character I played on reddit,” he added.
Mr. Brutsch also posted an extensive rebuttle to what he believes are “lies, innuendos, distortions and half-truths” in Mr. Chen’s expose. Here are a handful of those explanations, with quotes from Mr. Chen’s article and Mr. Brutsch’s comments italicized:
“‘Jailbait,’ that Violentacrez had created on Reddit dedicated to sexualized images of underaged girls.”
Jailbait was for pictures of attractive teens. We actually removed overtly “sexualizing” comments when we were made aware of them. SRS has had great results using the term “sexualizing” to attack my reddits. I’ve actually gotten emails from people wondering why people masturbated over “pics of dead kids”. What kind of sick mind thinks anyone finds that sort of image “sexual”?
“Users posted snapshots of tween and teenage girls, often in bikinis and skirts.”
Tweens were against the rules. People might have posted them, but we removed them as we became aware of them.
“They would say he was a child pornographer, when all he had done was spearhead the distribution of thousands of legal photos of underage girls.”
He says “underage girls” to conflate pictures of high-school girls with children. Very effective.
“for someone who once created an entire subreddit dedicated to pictures of dead teenage girls (Picsofdeadjailbait).”
Actually, they were links to news articles, not pictures.
Though the expose was widely lauded among journalists, not everyone considers Mr. Chen’s piece about Violentacrez an important act of journalism. Despite his actions outlined in the article, some Redditors are supportive of Mr. Brutsch. One user suggested setting up a PayPal account where Mr. Brutsch could solicit donations after losing his job.
“Just saw this. Can you establish a paypal account for anonymous contributions?” wrote one user. “I may not agree with all of your speech, but I agree with your right to say it and to troll til your heart’s content. And I will send enough money to buy a decent bottle of booze.”
Mr. Brutsch responded by providing his PayPal email address.
“Dude I just want to say, you are a pleasantly fucked up guy and everyone here has done completely weird, totally socially unacceptable shit on the internet. Most of us just look at porn in isolation, you have had the misfortune of getting caught being more open and forthright with your habits,” wrote another user.
Reddit moderators, who are free to create and change subreddit rules as they see fit, are also still banning Gawker links as retaliation for Gawker’s decision to run the piece. Today I Learned, a popular subreddit that boasts over 2 million users, announced its intention to ban all Gawker Media links, a few days after other high-profile subreddits declared the same.
Chat logs leaked to Pastebin over the weekend also revealed that moderators were actively lobbying Reddit admins to ban Gawker links site-wide. Reddit’s community manager David Croach (Dacvak) initially sent out a message saying that the link to Mr. Chen’s piece had been banned across the site. Reddit’s general manager Erik Martin confirmed to Betabeat that this was a mistake, and the link has since been reinstated. “Mods may ban whatever they choose but that specific link is not being blocked by the site now,” he said.
Despite the life-shattering repercussions spawned by his behavior online, Mr. Brutsch’s faith seems unshaken.
“Everything that happens is a test from God, and how you respond to that test determines whether you pass or fail,” he wrote.