Reddit v Gawker aftermath: Violentacrez looks for porn work

Summary:Reddit and Gawker's longstanding feud reached meltdown and got an internet troll fired in real life when Gawker outed one of Reddit's jailbait and rape joke trolls. "Violentacrez" now seeks work in... porn.

In sex and tech news this past week, Reddit and Gawker faced off when Gawker's Adrien Chen threatened - and then proceeded to - expose the identity of a particularly hate-inducing Redditor.

reddit

When his online activity was linked with his real life identity, the man was fired.

Now "Violentacrez" is looking for work in porn - where I'm sure he will be surprised to learn that the adult industry is a business that adheres strictly to age-of-consent laws, and is in reality a culture of informed sexual consent.

It began the week of October 10. Slate picked up the story as it began to circulate the social web:

When Gawker’s Adrian Chen told Reddit member "Violentacrez" who created subreddits such as 'creepshots', 'jailbait' and subreddits that celebrated rape jokes that he planned to write a profile about him - presumably outing the Redditor - Reddit went on the offensive.

Most notably, the moderators of r/politics—Reddit's main politics channel—announced on Wednesday that they would ban all Gawker links from their page in retribution.

Any Reddit vs. Gawker fight over a troll would have been an internet feud of the usual flavor, and certainly nothing new as Reddit and Gawker have been sparring for years.

Instead, the outing ignited a wider internet debate about online speech; the defense of 'free speech online' within the context of extreme speech.

Reddit's core values include anonymity and protecting identity, and these values center on the concept of open, free and protected speech on its website. Reddit did not respond well to Gawker's outing of a member. With "Violentacrez" the stakes were higher for Reddit's principles because the Redditor in question was one who acted on the most willfully extreme interpretation of "free speech" - an interpretation that lent itself to activity considered harmful.

As Reddit's mods grappled with censorship criticism around banning links to Gawker and defending Reddit's hands-off policies around trolls such as Violentacrez Ken at Popehat wrote:

You can argue all you want that forums like — oh, say, the /r/BeatingWomen subreddit — should be free to thrive without criticism.

Moderators can indulge your feelings by banning critics. Moderators can decide to ban links to Gawker on the theory that if you take pictures of children in public and post them for the sexual pleasure of misfit neckbeards, you have a right to privacy that should prevent anyone from identifying you.

But Reddit administrators and moderators and Redditors can't stop everyone else from calling out their conduct and their oddly inconsistent philosophy. Private individuals decrying, ridiculing, and even using their skills to identify Redditors are using a classic "more speech" remedy to speech they don't like.

It's a feature, not a bug, of free speech.

I can't help but think that the thing everyone's missing here is that 'free speech' does not mean 'anything goes.'

What happened here might show us where the larger fight between legal, protected speech and potential obscenity law violations are headed as the internet slams into real-life legal systems, and we find ourselves increasingly in an era of post-IRL community standards.

Perhaps Reddit would do well to decide when the use of 'free speech online' becomes harmful - to individuals as well as the communities its free speech values are intended to protect.

Boundaries, people. They're like free speech - use it or lose it. Lauren Weinstein had a good point:

(...) Similarly, the powers-that-be at Reddit, irrespective of the autonomy they've traditionally chosen to provide their users, were not required by law to shut down Brutsch (unless he crossed the line into illegal activities), but they were also not required to permit his monstrous hate spew to continue unabated.

There's no denying this whole situation was worse for Reddit because the troll ("Violentacrez") was an extremely easy target for Gawker.

Violentacrez had made himself (and by extension, Reddit) well known for publishing sexualized photos of women without their consent, image-based sexual subreddits on young/underage girls, and celebratory forums about rape jokes - among many others.

Extreme sexual fantasies are normal for humans. But take them out of context, and out of the realm of consent, or let someone use them for willful exploitation - and you've got a bomb on your hands.

Turning Violentacrez and the vilification of Reddit into pageviews was, in fact, a walk in the park for Gawker. Then, for those who get paid by pageview, they just let Reddit's well-earned reputation as a pageview-generating Mechanical Turk do the rest.

Gawker certainly took great advantage of Reddit's vulnerability - but so did "Violentacrez".

At the end of it, Michael Brutsch is a 49-year-old Perl programmer who posted with his 'inside voice' on Reddit under the name "Violentacrez" until Gawker's Adrian Chen outed him.

On Friday, "Violentacrez" went on Anderson Cooper 360. As the main man responsible for tying Reddit's reputation in popular consciousness with rape jokes and child porn, Brutsch used his outside voice to deliver an insincere apology, blame the Reddit community for what he did, and say that he did it for the upvotes.

I can think of a position in the porn industry for Mr. Brutsch, but it's probably not what he has in mind.

Topics: Privacy

About

Ms. Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com, @violetblue) is a freelance investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime at Zero Day/ZDNet, CNET and CBS News, as well as a noted sex columnist. She has made regular appearances on CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and is regularly interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of publications that inclu... Full Bio

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