It’s no secret that Reddit, the link-sharing site that members tout as a bastion of free speech and creativity, also serves as a seedy showcase of the sexism, racism and misogyny that’s always existed on the web. Reddit has a long history of publicly grappling with its dueling reputations: on the surface, it’s a knowledge-sharing platform that even the President has deemed worthy of his presence.
But the site has also battled to suppress some of its more hateful communities while toeing the free speech party line. Last year’s Violentacrez scandal, in which Gawker outed one of the site’s most notorious trolls for moderating the controversial subreddits r/Jailbait and r/Creepshots, exposed much of what Reddit admins gloss over in favor of inspiring “free and open Internet” rhetoric. In short: Reddit, much like a lot of the Internet, is still a pretty difficult place to be a woman.
Last night, the now-notorious Reddit troll Violentacrez, whom Gawker recently exposed as a 49-year-old Texas-based programmer named Michael Brutsch, appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 for God knows what reason. In the painfully awkward two-part interview, during which Mr. Cooper thankfully gave us a commercial break to collect ourselves and tweet our thoughts, Mr. Brutsch invoked every possible excuse to justify his poor behavior, which includes creating controversial subreddits like PicsofDeadKids and Jailbait.
Throughout the interview, Mr. Brutsch referred to his Reddit username Violentacrez in the third person, echoing other statements he’s made about Violentacrez being a character he played and attempting to distance himself from taking personal responsibility for his actions. He also admitted that his sole purpose for creating racist and misogynistic subreddits was to get a rise out of people (he bragged he has a “gift” for it) in order to accumulate “meaningless internet points.”
Michael Brutsch, the 49-year-old Texas resident whom Gawker outed last week as the man behind the racist and misogynistic Reddit troll account Violentacrez, is slated to appear tonight on Anderson Cooper 360.
In sound bites published to CNN’s Press Room blog, Mr. Brutsch speaks with CNN’s Drew Griffin about his experiences moderating the controversial subreddit Jailbait, where users posted sexualized photos of minors before it was shut down by Reddit last year.
As the story of notorious Reddit user Violentacrez and the controversial subreddits he moderated sinks its tentacles into the greater internet, Reddit administrators–known for their laissez-faire attitude toward site moderation–have remained astonishingly mum. In conversations with Betabeat, Reddit general manager Erik Martin gave little indication as to how Reddit intends to handle the Violentacrez and Creepshots fracas, except to admit that two of the subreddits had been banned by admins.
But a thread published by Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, posted to a private subreddit for moderators and obtained by Gawker, sheds some light on Reddit’s intentions toward the controversial content on its platform:
Predditors, the Tumblr that posts the personal information of Reddit users who publish photos to the controversial subreddit Creepshots, is back up and running after a tumultuous few days. The blog was initially removed by Tumblr after administrators there mistakenly believed that the information being published was personal information. In fact, the author of Predditors is simply stringing together information available on public profiles posted by the users.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Violentacrez scandal, it’s that anonymity on the Internet can be easily unmasked–for better or for worse. In the case of quadriplegic Internet sensation Dave on Wheels, it was for the worse. This is the story of how an anonymous blogger tricked the Internet into believing that he was a deaf, wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy sufferer using a special computer to communicate with his thousands of online fans.
David Rose was a 24-year-old Orange County resident who kept a blog, Facebook and Twitter account where he posted inspiring and wry missives about his life and battle with illness. (All of these accounts have since been deleted.) He had communicated with hundreds of online strangers as far back as 2007, when he first registered his Facebook profile.
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.
“You don’t want your analytical efforts to be obvious because voters get creeped out.” Data mining in politics is harder than it looks. [New York Times]
It’s “20 under 20″ time once more! If you’ve just gotten to freshman year and you absolutely hate it and you’ve already got a good idea for something you’d like to do instead, the Peter Thiel Foundation probably wants to see your application. [TNW]
Late Friday afternoon, Gawker’s Adrian Chen released the results of his epic trollhunt: “Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez.” You’ll no doubt be shocked to learn that he’s pretty much as expected. [Gawker]
It sounds like the whole matter has been one long headache for Reddit HQ, but it doesn’t seem to have made so much as a dent in Alexis Ohanian’s confidence in the world-improving powers of the Internet. [The Verge]
Sprint has agreed to sell a majority stake to Japanese telecom SoftBank–pending regulatory approval, of course. [Dealbook]
Has Microsoft finally stumbled onto a good idea? The company is launching Xbox Music, a streaming music offering 30 million songs strong. [New York Timess]
If websites are one big dysfunctional family, Reddit and Gawker Media are the two drunken uncles who can’t stop fighting over who has to pick grandpa up at the airport. Now, the two sites are preparing for a grueling “inter-website war” that threatens to rob netizens of wifi packet rations and provide hours of popcorn-eating fodder.
After news broke on Reddit that Gawker writer Adrian Chen was preparing to publish a post revealing the personal information of Reddit user Violentacrez, a moderator of the controversial subreddit r/creepshots, Reddit began to batten down the hatches. The politics subreddit, which boasts almost 2 million subscribers, announced that it will ban all links to Gawker Media properties–including Gawker, Jezebel and Lifehacker–in response to the news that Mr. Chen may be preparing to publish personal details about Violentacruz.