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Unmasking Reddit's Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web

Originally Published: Oct. 12, 5:00 p.m.

Total Pageviews: 1,266,418

Reported by: Adrian Chen

The Backstory, from Adrian Chen:

To be honest, I was caught off-guard by the firestorm this story set off (which began even before it was published). When I first learned about Violentacrez, I was interested mainly in the puzzle of how someone who was famous for being a horrible person had come to wield so much influence on Reddit, which has become famous for doing good. I didn't expected my identifying him would be of huge interest to people who weren't obsessed, like I am, by the inner-workings of Reddit and its outsized influence on internet culture. Of course I was wrong: the story set off a whole debate about anonymity on the internet, online vigilantism, etc.—but when I was looking into it I didn't see what I was doing as any different than what investigative journalists have done forever, which is learn sensitive facts and publicize them.

Since he was exposed as Violentacrez, Michael Brutsch appeared on CNN to defend himself, then immediately regretted it. He reappeared briefly on Reddit last month, but after a few sites took notice he vanished and deleted his account completely. Currently nearly 100 subreddits are still censoring Gawker links in retaliation for my article.

Adrian Chen for president of the internet.

To revisit the Violentacrez saga, click here.