Reddit v Gawker aftermath: Violentacrez looks for porn work

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.

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TOPICS: Privacy
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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.

Topic: Privacy

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14 comments
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  • Rewrite it with more clarity

    I could not understand a thing in here. I like some of the nicer porn though.
    tetraclit
  • Rewrite it with more clarity

    I could not understand a thing in here. I like some of the nicer porn though.
    tetraclit
  • There is no "extreme speech"

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

    Yes it does, only in well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech is considered criminal and those only came after very long and historical prudence of deliberation from the supreme court. You need to read about Smith v. Collin, and what exactly Osborne v. Ohio ruling states about child pornography to see that Violentacrez was within his rights, even if was "extreme speech" and had no social utility.

    Evil, hurtful, offensive, and despicable, but if a insignificant troll like Violentacrez for the press (aka this article) to try to redefine the 1st amendment, then maybe my anger at Violentacrez is misplaced.
    Aliephe
    • Not about speech

      The thing is, when Violet Blue says that "not everything goes" she's obviously not speaking legally. Of course, it's not obvious that Violentacrez did anything illegal at this point.

      The idea is that if you use your right to free speech to make other people's lives uncomfortable then you can't be shocked when other people use their right to free speech to make your life uncomfortable.

      Brutsch conducted his activity in public and gave people the means to identify him... pretty easily. No one sneaked into his home and videotaped him or wiretapped his phone calls.

      Reddit can claim that as a community their members don't out one another and ban members who do... but they can't legally stop either their members or the people who read the forums from identifying the people posting.

      It's beyond belief that guys like Violentacrez, who claim that they have a right to photograph fifteen year old's asses and upload them to the internet because "she was in public... no expectation of privacy," feel that THEIR rights to privacy are being violated if, while THEY are in public conducting this activity, someone points at them and says... "Hey... that's Nick."
      Claudia George
      • This.

        Claudia, exactly: my line about 'anything goes' was not in regard to legal application of free speech. Reddit is not a public utility, public "square" or public domain - Reddit is a private entity, a company, a privately owned web property that has communities and 'lives' in many countries - this is arguably a private speech arena, though a court would need to evaluate and determine this.

        So, about speech. "Free speech" is a political right that varies by country (a right with limitations such as slander, libel, obscenity), whereas freedom of expression is a value considered a human right that is recognized under international human rights laws (again, subject to certain restrictions - considered responsibilities - such as respecting the rights and reputation of others).

        The tl;dr is that restrictions around speech fall under the 'harm principle' and that a process of accountability follows to keep it in check so as to reduce harm - and the use of speech over the will of others. These norms on limiting speech mean that speech can not be suppressed during times of crisis, and that the fullest liberty of expression can push arguments to their logical end, but disallow the misuse of speech to exploit others for personal gain, power or suppression of the speech of others.

        I think we need to do everything we can to keep speech free, open and challengingly robust. I also think that when you troll people, you gotta expect to be trolled right back - and you better be able to take it.
        Violet Blue
    • He's not an advocate of free speech, he's a lightening rod for reform

      You're missing the point in regards to violentacrez. This man is not an advocate of free speech. His actions make it more likely that those definitions you cite will be expanded in the near future. He's more a catalyst for changing the exsisting laws to include broader definitions for obscenity laws. People like violentacrez who use free speech to post this garbage run the real risk of having his posting taken to court and having free speech regulated further. This will cause a reduction on our rights all so some losers have pictures of little girls to wank too.
      Jose DelMadre
    • defining free speech

      Is a funny thing, Anyone can say anything they want and that is fine. Sometimes they may not like when the replies to their views leave them jobless and bruised and then they can decide to continue on or retire like this guy.

      From one side I would love to reach through a monitor and choke some racist bastard out and if I found out who that someone might would it be wrong to express that freedom I don't know. I do have a hard time feeling for a guy who's pleasure was trolling but I still feel anonymity should be upheld even if you paint a target on your own rear like he did.
      Willtur
  • Which Is Worse: Rape Or Murder?

    The "Onion Movie" had a skit called "How To Host A Rape", being a send-up of "How To Host A Murder". We seem to have no trouble with jokes about killing people, yet rape jokes are held to a different standard. Can someone explain why this is? Is murder somehow more acceptable than rape?
    ldo17
    • @Ido17

      Studies have shown that rapists actually think all men are rapists and that others are just better at not getting caught. Rape jokes reinforce this. Also 1 in 20 have admitted to being a raper (in anonymous surveys). That means their is a good chance one of you buddies rapes and thinks it is a-okay behaviours. They think rape jokes are funny because it validates their behaviour. Rapes are more frequent and common than murders (1 in 4 women) yet rape jokes are much more common than murder. Generally the only group of people that think murder is okay are serial killers. And even some of them know it is wrong.
      The_Curiosity
      • Re: They think rape jokes are funny because it validates their behaviour.

        Does that only apply to rape? Does making jokes about murder mean validating the behaviour of murderers? Should one be treated differently from the other?
        ldo17
        • Yes they should.

          I think the previous poster stated a very good case. You should go back and read it again, as it's already answered your question.
          Bozzer
      • Actual rape statistics

        Roughly one in four women is sexually assaulted - sexual assault starts at "looked at her long enough for her to feel uncomfortable" all the way up to rape. Most of these sexual assaults happen to women between the ages of 14 and 35.

        The number of men who get sexually assaulted is about one in six.

        The actual incidence of rape (threat of violence, forced penetration) is, depending on your sources, between 3% and 5% of the female population per year.

        http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm has the actual numbers, but for those in the TL;DR mode - rapes are about 6x as common as murders. There were a bit over 84,000 rapes in 2010. The rape rate is falling - it's declined nearly 25% since 1991.

        If you want to see some horrifying numbers, look at rape statistics for men in prison.
        Ad Astra
  • Governance problem

    Well said. What this shows is a governance problem with crowdsourced sites: local consensus arrives at decisions that are harmful to the organisation overall, and change is impossible from within: if requires outside criticism (in this case, from CNN). The media have a key role in holding crowdsourced sites accountable.

    Many people feel this case indicates a fundamental shift in attitude to the purpose and limits of online anonymity. They may well be right.
    Andreas Kolbe
  • This has nothing to do with free speech

    Reddit and Gawker are private entities. They can do whatever they want and the repercussions are limited to contractual agreements between them and the user.

    Mr. Brutsch can say (type) whatever he wants, Reddit can censor/publish it wants, and Gawker can 'out' whomever it wants. And the firm that employee Mr. Brutsch can fire him.

    Mr. Brutsch should consider this in his future as a janitor.
    CyberZombie