After getting the entire Gawker network banned from nearly 70 subreddit sections, Gawker's Adrian Chen has followed through with what got him kicked off in the first place—unmasking a Reddit user he called the "biggest troll on the Web," known as Violentacrez, in a lengthy post on Gawker.com. Chen's threat to reveal this man, whose real name is Michael Brutsch, this week incited a Reddit moderator campaign to block all Gawker sites in an attempt to show solidarity and protect the identity of Brutsch, as well as to defend an assumed right to anonymity on such threads. Chen had originally sought out Violentacrez because of his connection to the jailbait scandal last year, and wanted to further interview him because of a new photo scandal brewing over CreepShots, which we explained yesterday. Today, Chen followed through with his plans, detailing Brutsch's on and offline life after a phone call between the two in which Brutsch admitted he was indeed Violentacrez. Chen writes, "Violentacrez and his fellow moderators worked hard to make sure every girl on jailbait was underage, diligently deleting any photos of whose subjects seemed older than 16 or 17." At the same time, Brutsch was caring for his disabled wife and paying his mortgage.
Even with Violentacrez's connection to what Chen calls "the absolute worst stuff on Reddit," he had a surprising amount of support from the Reddit community, which created the separate subreddit r/bangawker, where moderators and other Redditors pronounced their distaste for Chen and Gawker. Chen explains why:
This is how Violentacrez, the Reddit's creepiest user, also became its most powerful. Sure, he was responsible for the absolute worst stuff on Reddit, and by extension, some of the worst stuff on the internet. But Violentacrez was also seen to be, as Chris Slowe put it to me, "a trustworthy and be a positive member of the community." He moderated more than 400 subreddits and had many high-profile friends, amassed over many years. His stable at times included hundreds of popular mainstream subreddits, like Funny and WTF, that reach audiences of millions. Violentacrez further solidified his reach by becoming a mentor to other moderators. He created the first FAQ for Reddit's rather unintuitive moderator interface. He also helmed a number of subreddits dedicated to providing guidance and camaraderie for other moderators, including the essential modhelp.
Though, as Chen's reporting shows, power on Reddit only goes so far. What happens on Reddit doesn't stay on Reddit—no matter how powerful the Redditor.