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. 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. 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 mids. 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, active subreddits out of nearlytotalspanning 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. 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. 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, horny subscribers.
Violentacrez and his fellow moderators worked hard to make sure every girl on jailbait was underage, diligently deleting any photos whose subjects seemed older than 16 or Violentacrez himself posted hundreds of photos. Jailbait became one of Reddit's most popular subreddits, generating millions of pageviews a month. The ensuing outcry led Reddit administrators to reluctantly ban Jailbait, and all sexually suggestive content featuring minors.
On the phone, Michael Brutsch insisted he is not a pedophile but was unapologetic about Jailbait. She was 16 at the time, he said—how was that different than what he was doing?Do not post content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people; likewise, do not post content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals.
Account and Community Restrictions
We understand there are sometimes reasons to post violent content e. If your content is borderline, please use a NSFW tag. Even mild violence can be difficult for someone to explain to others if they open it unexpectedly. Reddit has previously banned multiple subreddits in violation of this policy. Militia groups have threatened violence against efforts to bring back Oregon GOP state senators who refuse to pass legislation on climate action. One of the lawmakers on the lam, Republican Brian Boquist Rwarned that he would resort to violence rather than return to the state, implying in a local television interview that he would attack law enforcement officers sent to retrieve him.
You don't want to acknowledge it and they made it illegal to do so but you have a choice - bite the bullet or let the collapse fall onto your kids instead of you. No problems shooting a cop trying to strip rights from Citizens.
If he calls for help I'd come. Flood Oregon and take over Portland. Let's make this happen. Stock upon that ammo too. The ballot box has been abused. The ammo box is what they then choose.Watch live: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives coronavirus update. Reddit restricted its largest pro-Trump community Wednesday after some users threatened to harm politicians and the police because of the political impasse in Oregon.
The quarantine also restricts the subreddit from appearing in popular feeds and search recommendations. Reddit also removed a custom styling that the community had been using to hide the downvote button on posts. The subreddit has been the source of many viral political meme campaigns, some of which have even been tweeted by the president.
Reddit has recently been cracking down on subreddits used by extremists. Allam said the pro-Trump community had caused problems for Reddit for years. News Business World Sports Podcasts.Men Who Have Been Abused By Women Share Their Stories - AskReddit
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Brandy Zadrozny. Ben Collins.Watch live: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives coronavirus update. Qanon devotees falsely believe that President Donald Trump is secretly waging a war with special counsel Robert Mueller to take down a global pedophile ring led by Hollywood celebrities and the Democratic Party, most notably Hillary Clinton. Threats to kill Clinton pervaded GreatAwakening earlier this month when users were incensed by a Qanon-based theory that she was somehow causing military planes to fall out of the sky.
Whoa QAnon subreddit banned. An investigation by NBC News found that moderators moved Qanon posts from 8chan, a hard-to-navigate internet message board used mostly by trolls and younger people, to Reddit, making it accessible to a larger, older, and less internet savvy audience of conspiracy theorists.
From there, Qanon crept to Facebook, where it continued to grow.
The group had more than 20, subscribers at the time. Tens of thousands of users congregate on Twitter and in closed Facebook groups dedicated to QAnon. In August, as media coverage of Qanon increased, several of the largest Qanon Facebook groups changed their names, fearing the platform would ban them.
When no action was taken, the groups reverted to their original names. Reddit ramped up enforcement against racist, sexist and anti-Semitic subreddits earlier this week.
Last October, Reddit banned a community devoted to Pizzagate, a smaller conspiracy theory that also alleged Clinton was running a child sex ring out of the basement of a pizza shop that had no basement. Q had repeatedly led posters to believe Mueller, Manafort and Cohen were working in tandem to catch the alleged child sex ring. News Business World Sports Podcasts. Follow NBC News. Breaking News Emails Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
Byers Market Newsletter. Get breaking news and insider analysis on the rapidly changing world of media and technology right to your inbox.The social news site Reddit has occasionally been the topic of controversy due to the presence of communities on the site known as "subreddits" devoted to explicit or controversial material.
This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it. This started discussion in the media about the ethics of anonymity and outing on the Internet. The community, which featured graphic depictions of violence against womenwas banned after its moderators were found to be sharing users' personal information online, and collaborating to protect one another from sitewide bans.
The subreddit's leaders decided to ban individuals advocating for murder.
He also expressed concern that he would be falsely labeled a child pornographer or anti-semite because of some of the subreddits he created. Reddit CEO Yishan Wong defended the content Brutsch contributed to the site as free speech and criticized efforts to ban the Gawker link on the same basis.
In the interview with journalist Drew GriffinBrutsch was apologetic about his activity on Reddit. He explained that he was most fond of the appreciation he got from other redditors, and that Reddit helped him relieve stress.
Brutsch also described the support he had from administrators, stating that he had received an award for his contributions. Chris Slowe, a lead programmer of Reddit untilsaid of the relationship between Brutsch and the Reddit staff: "We just stayed out of there and let him do his thing and we knew at least he was getting rid of a lot of stuff that wasn't particularly legal.
Sady Doylewriting in The Guardiancompared it to the outing of the alleged blackmailer of Amanda Todd and suggested that such outings may be justified, but that they may also unduly focus attention on individuals without confronting the underlying problems by engaging in "sensationalism" at the expense of cultural reform. Following the Christchurch mosque shootings 15 Marchmore anti-Muslim posts were made on the subreddit.
Deepfakes was a controversial subreddit that superimposed famous female actresses onto pornographic videos, made using FakeApp, without the consent of the actresses. On 7 Februarythe day after Pornhub banned the videos, the subreddit was banned as well. On 10 JuneReddit banned five subreddits, citing an anti-harassment policy.
The subreddit was banned on 12 September due to violating Reddit's content policy regarding violence and personal information. In JanuaryMother Jones published a story describing the sale of guns on the site.
The report suggested that sellers were doing so to exploit a loophole in U. In the summer ofa petition on Change. The subreddit's leaders disavowed the Toronto van attack and deleted some posts by members who praised Alek Minassian's alleged actions.
Dozens of Reddit users then posted requests for these nude photos to be shared to them by private message. It was banned on 10 September for violating Reddit's content policy regarding violent content. Content on the subreddit was often racist, homophobic and transphobic in nature.
Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peacea television show created by the group, was cancelled in following coverage of the group's connections to the alt-right.The subredditlinked to an alt-left, socialist podcast, was awash with violent comments, calling for the death of police officers, Republican politicians, and anyone who dared to oppose their ideology.
This is despite the fact that moderators were constantly working hard to quash anything that could potentially come off as violent, and was a community that abhorred threats, rather than rejoiced in them, as ChapoTrapHouse tended to do.
Despite several prior warnings, we continue to observe and take action on a disproportionate amount of rule-breaking behavior by members of this community. We are also troubled that violent content often goes unreported, and worse, is upvoted.
Users of ChapoTrapHouse were fuming. Jack Hadfield is a conservative and free-speech advocate from the UK. He considers himself to be a professional mischief maker, and loves nothing more than annoying the pearl-clutching left. His work has previously appeared in Breitbart and Politicalite.
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Unmasking Reddit's Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web
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