Reddit’s Biggest Troll: Violentacrez – Internet Hall of Fame
Reddit is one of the internet’s most popular websites, which has thousands of different
subreddits to explore with some being a lot more controversial than others, and possibly
the biggest contributor to these questionable fourms was a user that went by Violentacrez.
All the way back in 2005 Reddit was founded as a link aggregator site that allowed users
to submit titles attached to link that brought you to articles, videos, images, or anything
else that they might’ve felt was interesting. Another thing that made this new site cool
were subreddits that could be created for a variety of subject matters.
While the premise Reddit seemed simple enough, most could’ve never predicted the impact
this website would have. After years of growth it became one of the 50 most viewed sites
on the entire web. One of the big things that helped reddit grow was the company’s hand
off approach of allowing users to moderate their own subreddit without censorship as
long as they weren’t doing anything illegal or breaking site rules.
While this concept may have originally been to just allow people to have unpopular opinions
without fear of being banned, things over time became more complicated with sections
of the site having increasingly provocative content, and one Reddit user at the head of
many of these subreddits was Violentacrez. Violentacrez joined Reddit in 2007 with him
quickly taking a liking to the site and the owner’s hands off nature of overseeing the
forums, so with that he went to work becoming one of the biggest users of the site, moderating
many purposely shocking subreddits including Creepshots, BeatingWoman, Picsofdeadkids,
Picsofdeadbabies, Misogyny, Jewmerica, Hitler, and most famously jailbait to stir up outrage.
For those of you who aren’t aware, /r/jailbait at the time was a place user’s shared picture
of scantily clad underage girls that they’d usually find on facebook. And Violentacrez
saw this as his magnum opus since it was easily his biggest sub-reddit, along with it being
fully legal since there was no nudity. While the small staff at Reddit in the early
days weren’t overly happy about the community Violentacrez was building, they soon found
him helpful in moderating the portions of the site that weren’t suitable for work.
Since this one crafty troll was willing to moderate the dark side of reddit for free,
a very strange agreement was met between them. For years Violentacrez was able to freely
spark outrage from the purposely offensive communities he had built, but things started
to change as Reddit became more and more popular. Many news organizations started to give the
link aggregator more scrutiny especially since the sites second most searched term was jailbait—it
soon had gotten picked up by CNN and other sites that Reddit was allowing this sort of
content, so soon after /r/jailbait was shut down.
While this was defiantly a big blow to Reddit’s arguably biggest user, it didn’t stop him
from continuing to use his first amendment right at the greatest extent allowed by the
law, but little did the anonymous user know things were going to change soon enough.
In 2012 violentacrez was contacted by Gawker journalist Adrian Chen who had finally figured
out his real identity. After years of causing outrage, everyone discovered Michael Brutsch
was the man behind the infamous persona. A former U.S. Air Force programming specialist,
49 year old Michael worked as an application developer in Texas with a teenage son, disabled
wife, 7 cats, and 2 dogs. After a long day though, what he enjoyed most was to go on
Reddit and rile people up through his hundreds of subreddits.
Soon after his identity was revealed he lost his job, then with not much else to loose
he went on CNN with an interview explaining how he did it because he could, and that reddit
was very supportive of him since he drew people to the site in the early days; including them
giving him a gold plated bobble head. It was clear that he wanted to pin part of the responsibility
on Reddit for encouraging the behavior. While Mr. Brutsch owned up to all he did including
jailbait, he still argued that his biggest sub-reddit was no different than the music
industry sexualizing young girls, with his example being an early Britany Spears. But
even with that being said he still regrets his actions, and the effects they’ve had
in his life. Another piece of hypocrisy that many pointed
out was that the media outlet gawker was willing to doxx this man and in result destroy his
life by reveling his personal information, which may even be worse than what violentacrez
had done for all those years; in result many high profile sub-reddits have banned links
from gawker. Ever since Michael Brutsch was revealed gawker
has become more well known for their iffy ethical standards, as well as Reddit cracking
down more and more on controversial sub-reddits that may offend others, and in result making
many loose respect for a site once known to allow free speech, no matter how unpopular.
So because of all this I’d like to welcome violentacrez to my internet hall of fame,
whether that’s a good or bad thing is completely up to you.