For years now, I’ve been saying that I’d like to see the Internet redesigned to put an end to anonymity. The response is always something like, “What about whistle blowers and people in repressive dictatorships?” The reality is, that’s a tiny percentage of the people who’d be impacted. In actuality, anonymity mostly serves to protect pieces of human garbage like Violentacrez.
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.
Some of the sections Violentacrez created or moderated were called:
You can look those up on Reddit and visit them if you’d like to ruin your day, but the content is self-explanatory.
…Brutsch shut down the Violentacrez account abruptly this past Tuesday, six days after we spoke. When I Gchatted him that night, Brutsch told me, “I guess I just got tired of all the hassle.” He said he was done with Reddit for good. “Reddit ceased being fun a while ago,” he said.
Now he’s going to spend the hours he used to lose to Reddit on work. “Oh, and possibly looking for a job will obviously keep me busy ;)”
Oh, my gosh! He quit Reddit! He may lose his job.
If you’re posting N*ggerjailbait, R*pebait, and Creepshots on the Internet, you SHOULD LOSE YOUR JOB. In fact, the whole idea that what you post on the Internet should be completely separated from your life offline is exactly what’s wrong with anonymity on the Internet. That’s why trolls, spammers, hackers, cyber bullies, and a wide variety of other assorted morons and dirtbags exist — because they can behave reprehensibly online without their parents, their families, their friends, their job and maybe even the police, finding out what they’re doing. It’s all well and good to be concerned about the impact on trolls if their identities get out, but maybe it’s time to start giving just as much consideration to how they’re damaging other people’s lives and how the culture this is creating is affecting all of us.