View Full Version : Unmasking The Biggest Troll on the Web

Scarlet Ibis
10-16-2012, 03:46 AM

Last Wednesday afternoon I called Michael Brutsch. He was at the office of the Texas financial services company where he works as a programmer and he was having a bad day. I had just told him, on Gchat, that I had uncovered his identity as the notorious internet troll Violentacrez (pronounced Violent-Acres).

"It's amazing how much you can sweat in a 60 degree office," he said with a nervous laugh.

Judging from his internet footprint, Brutsch, 49, has a lot to sweat over. If you are capable of being offended, Brutsch has almost certainly done something that would offend you, then did his best to rub your face in it. His speciality is distributing images of scantily-clad underage girls, but as Violentacrez he also issued an unending fountain of racism, porn, gore, misogyny, incest, and exotic abominations yet unnamed, all on the sprawling online community Reddit. At the time I called Brutsch, his latest project was moderating a new section of Reddit where users posted covert photos they had taken of women in public, usually close-ups of their asses or breasts, for a voyeuristic sexual thrill. It was called "Creepshots." Now Brutsch was the one feeling exposed and it didn't suit him very well.

But Michael Brutsch is more than a monster. Online, Violentacrez has been one of Reddit's most reviled characters but also one of its most beloved users. The self-described "creepy uncle of Reddit" has played a little-known but crucial role in Reddit's development into the online juggernaut it is today. In real life, Brutsch is a military father and cat-lover. He lives with his wife in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, Texas. There are many sides to Violentacrez, and now that I had Michael Brutsch on the phone I hoped to find out where the troll ended and the real person began....

....I first became aware of Violentacrez last year, when controversy erupted over a section, called "Jailbait," that Violentacrez had created on Reddit dedicated to sexualized images of underaged girls. (Brutsch adapted the name from "Violent Acres," a popular anonymous blogger he was fond of in the mid-2000s.) Reddit, for the uninitiated, is essentially a social news site; with a free username, anyone can submit and vote on content and can do so anonymously. And anyone can start a forum on Reddit dedicated to their interests, known as a subreddit. Today, there are about 10,000 active subreddits out of nearly 100,000 total, spanning a dizzying array of topics from funny pictures, to Power Rangers, to pooping. If a post gets enough "upvotes," as they're called, it can be propelled to the front page of Reddit and a massive audience.

The breadth of topics and dedication of users has made Reddit, which calls itself the "front page of the internet," the single dominant force in internet culture today, boasting over 3.4 billion pageviews this August. It reached a new level of legitimacy last month, when President Obama held a Q & A on Reddit. These days, Reddit is mentioned in the same breath as Twitter and Facebook by pundits expounding on the power of social media.

But Reddit's laissez-faire attitude towards offensive speech has led to a vast underbelly that rivals anything on the notorious cesspool 4chan. And with Jailbait, Violentacrez decided to create a safe space for people sexually attracted to underage girls to share their photo stashes. I would call these people pedophiles; the Jailbait subreddit called them "ephebophiles." Jailbait was the online equivalent of systematized street harassment. Users posted snapshots of tween and teenage girls, often in bikinis and skirts. Many of these were lifted from their Facebook accounts and thrown in front of Jailbait's 20,000 horny subscribers.....

Read the full story here: http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web

Apparently, he lost his job after his identity was uncovered. To be brutally honest, I take privacy on the internet quite seriously, but I don't feel sorry for this guy in the least.



Actions have consequences, which is something Michael Brutsch is just starting to learn.

Brutsch, aka "Violentacrez," was Reddit's biggest troll until Gawker exposed his true identify, revealing to the world the man behind questionable forums, such as r/creepshots -- a space dedicated to pictures of women unaware that their photographs had been taken.

Now that the 49-year-old from Arlington, Texas, has been outed, his behavior has caught up with him.

According to The Daily Dot, Brutsch was fired from his position at a financial services company less than 24 hours after Gawker editor Adrian Chen's exposť went live.

Before the article was published, Chen wrote that Brutsch pleaded with him not to reveal his identity, correctly fearing he would lose his job and his ability to provide for his family.

"My wife is disabled. I got a home and a mortgage, and if this hits the fan, I believe this will affect negatively on my employment," he told Gawker. "I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time."

In a phone conversation, Brutsch admitted to being the Reddit user named Violentacrez, who created or moderated sections dedicated to pornographic and violent images, including subreddits called r/rapebait, r/incest, r/picsofdeadkids, r/jailbait, and r/chokeabitch.

10-16-2012, 04:58 AM
Wow, what a freak. I have no tolerance for people encouraging pedophiles.

I'm local to him. Surprised he didn't make the local news.

10-16-2012, 05:02 AM
I love it how "the biggest troll on the web" was made a moderator by those in the know. What a sewer that site must be.

10-16-2012, 11:46 AM
great job Gawker!
love it when these cowardly dogs are outed and face the music
not so tough when caught eh?
..."Chen wrote that Brutsch pleaded with him not to reveal his identity"
what a snivelling coward


10-16-2012, 09:54 PM
I have warned of such things. But more seriously, this should hammer home the increasing intersection between offline realities and online environments. The discovery aside, this moderator-meets-troll of a character was promoted, shielded, and granted vast virtual powers by those who knew well who he was. That he was "discovered" by an outsider well into his administration says more about Reddit than it does about Michael Brutsch. While I could indict this man's judgment and character at length, I will not do so for I am more than certain the news junkets and blogs will be pursuing that course of action and I'd rather not appear like a Bible-wielding Puritan. That said, of the things I am told he posted and collected, it was all in terrible taste. Even hardened trolls have told me they found much of his collections appalling.

Wing Genealogist
10-16-2012, 09:58 PM
I found it interesting where he was basically asking for mercy, saying what kind of hardship would befall his family. It was nothing compared to the hardships faced by those he victimized, both directly & indirectly.

Scarlet Ibis
10-16-2012, 11:53 PM
He set up a paypal account for people to donate money to him, too. :rolleyes: No doubt some of his fanboys from Reddit will donate to him.

Anyway, I guess I have to justify why I put this story in the Psychology section. Last night, I was reading an article about the us vs. them mentality that was going on with some of his fanboys on Reddit. I can't find it, though, so I'll just link another article about internet trolling.


German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote that certain instances of wickedness seem to stem from an "authentic inability to think." (Wikimedia Commons)

What Was Reddit Troll Violentacrez Thinking?
OCT 16 2012, 10:54 AM ET 25

By now you have probably read Adrian Chen's substantial and disturbing profile of Michael Brutsch, aka Violentacrez, aka "The Biggest Troll on the Web." Among Brutsch's "accomplishments": establishing or moderating subreddits for "jailbait" (photos of scantily clad teenage girls), "creepshots" (close-ups of women's asses and breasts, taken in public), incest, and posting a photograph of a woman being brutally beaten in a subreddit called "beating women."

What goes on inside the head of Michael Brutsch or other people like him that leads to this kind of behavior? What did he think about those who were on the receiving end of his trolling?

It seems he did not think about them at all. They were completely removed from him physically, and as sociologists have shown, the greater the distance between us and our victims, the easier it may be to cause pain. This is one proposed explanation for an escalation in intensity in warfare, or an eagerness to go pursue war, as weapons technology has increased the distance between fighting parties. Likewise, in Stanley Milgram's famed experiments, the willingness of people to willingly shock other people decreased dramatically as subjects came into closer and closer contact with their supposed victims. When the shocker and the shockee were placed in the same room and could see one another, obedience dropped from 65 to 40 percent. When they were made to be in physical contact, obedience fell to 30 percent, and so on.

But online -- particularly in a world that thrives on anonymity -- people are not in proximity with one another, it may in some ways be harder to make the thinking leap, to bring the object of your trolling into your mind. The trolled are not people; they are usernames. They do not feel or experience pain; it may be hard to imagine them reading your words or seeing the picture you posted at all.....

Read full article here: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/10/what-was-reddit-troll-violentacrez-thinking/263648/#

10-17-2012, 07:20 AM
The mob calling themselves Anonymous have outed another alleged troll, this time in relation to a 15 year old girl hanging herself after being severely bullied.

(Have to love the irony in a masked person using computer simulated voice naming another anonymous person.)