It was all for the upvotes

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Editor-in-Chief
October 23, 2012

Gawker magazine recently exposed noted Redditer Violentacrez, a user that’s been called “the biggest troll on the Internet.”  Now Michael Brutsch finds himself pushed out of a job and into the spotlight, and the Reddit community is rallying behind him for their right to privacy.

Brutsch as Violentacrez was behind the Jailbait subreddit that Anderson Cooper called out on CNN last year for being what we can nicely refer to as a little sketchy.  The subreddit was a huge collection of creeper shots of underage girls created and moderated by Violentacrez.  Basically, take a picture of a 14-year-old girl with your phone without her noticing and post it to Reddit.  Brutsch said to Gawker that he was trying to create a safe place for people sexually attracted to underage girls.  All 20,000 of them who were subscribed to Jailbait.

After Jailbait was brought to light on CNN, the Reddit team shut the subreddit down along with other sexually suggestive content featuring minors.

Creating Jailbait apparently sprang from Brutsch’s sincere–and creepy–interest in the subject matter, which doesn’t make him a troll. Many of the other things he did on Reddit did qualify him for that title.  Some of the other subreddits he created were r/chokeabitch, r/misogyny and r/rapebait among others, and they were just there to enrage Reddit users.

Despite the emotional exploitation and the deluge of porn, in the end when Gawker’s reporter figured out that Brutsch was Violentacrez, other Redditers rallied to support him.  When it got out that Gawker was going to expose Violentacrez, the politics subreddit wrote, “we feel that this type of behavior is completely intolerable.”

So, what’s more intolerable?  Creating and moderating a popular forum on the internet encouraging people to take creeper shots of underage girls share or is exposing the person who does that?

It’s 2012, guys.  We’ve realized the Internet is not just a thing that happened in the early 2000’s and then went away like the next big fad.  When OIT shut the Internet down on campus last weekend, most people couldn’t function.  We made fun of it, but, seriously, all we did was refresh our browsers every 30 seconds for hours.  We live both online and offline lives, and we should take both aspects seriously.

The politics subreddit went on to clarify why they thought exposing someone’s anonymous identity was intolerable.  According to the moderators, users should not have to be afraid of having their personal information investigated and spread around the internet if someone disagrees with them.

Anonymity makes you brave.  We get it.  But anonymity also allows for things like r/jailbait to thrive and become one of the most popular things on the internet.

This week I was asked if The Sun Star printed anonymous letters to the editor.  The answer is no, we don’t.  We do this to keep our community honest.  It’s the same reason why we moderate our comments and require online readers who have something to say to provide their name and email address.  Have an opinion, but own up to it.  Be brave enough to attach your name to what you believe in.

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