In an extensive Gawker exposé yesterday, Adrian Chen revealed the man behind Violentacrez, one of the creepiest yet simultaneously most beloved users and volunteer moderators on social news site Reddit. For years, Michael Brutsch has been posting offensive content including pictures of scantily-clad underage girls—but he always makes sure to keep things legal, and Reddit staff actually trusted him to remove illegal content, like actual child pornography, from the site. As Chen describes it, Brutsch, 49, is just a huge troll: He loved creating Reddit forums on topics such as incest, Hitler, and some whose titles are difficult to even read—not necessarily because he himself was interested in the content, but to provoke a reaction from other Reddit users. Outraged users would complain about the content, thus getting it more attention—sometimes even on the website's front page.
Chen had been aware of Violentacrez since last year, when controversy over his "jailbait" Reddit section first began. Ultimately, the jailbait forum and all sexually suggestive content involving minors was banned by Reddit, but that didn't stop Brutsch from finding other outlets—he went on to moderate a forum he didn't create called "creepshots," where users posted pictures of women's breasts or butts they had taken secretly, until it too was banned just recently. When Chen learned of Brutsch's true identity and rumors began to circulate that Chen was going to out him, many of Reddit's volunteer moderators jumped to Brutsch's defense, seeking revenge by banning Gawker links from their forums. In some cases, this was because of loyalty to Brutsch, who had helped to train many mods, but Reddit is also intensely concerned with free speech. "Under Reddit logic, outing Violentacrez is worse than anonymously posting creepshots of innocent women, because doing so would undermine Reddit's role as a safe place for people to anonymously post creepshots of innocent women," Chen writes. "I am OK with that." His piece reveals Brutsch as a military dad who likes cats and whose family, he says, is aware of his online activities. He is, however, scared of what the exposé will mean for his job. Chen's full piece is definitely worth a read.