This past Saturday, a reddit user named Naratto used the Confession Bear—a meme with which reddit users admit often-true secrets like being obsessed with a brother, loving Justin Bieber, enjoying the smell of one's own balls—to talk about a murder. "My sister had an abusive meth addict boyfriend," Naratto claimed. "I killed him with his own drugs while he was unconscious and they ruled it as an overdose."
Surely, Naratto was joking, right? Right? It's a Breaking Bad synopsis posted on a photo of bear. But Naratto's fellow redditors weren't so dismissive, immediately excavating Naratto's personal information and posting his biographical data on the site. This information dump was reliable enough to freak out Naratto, who confirmed its accuracy in an aggrieved follow-up post, by writing, "I made a meme about something and it was turned into people revealing my PERSONAL INFORMATION. It was quite rude and VERY uncalled for." Soon after, Naratto deleted his profile and disappeared entirely.
This is the same community that's ardently defended the right to online anonymity and privacy, even as a protection for despicable privacy-violating behavior. Yet users allowed this personal information to be preserved even after reddit moderators deleted it, leaving this list of what we know about Naratto, the user who joked (yes, joked, right?) about murder with a bear:
He's a 24-year-old male with ties to San Diego, California.
His middle name is Ryder
His birthdate is 2/11/89.
He has an older sister who is approximately 29 years old.
He's a former US Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class.
In 2008 he worked construction on a house on top of a hill at 4985 Mt. Helix Dr. in El Cajon, CA, driving a hydraulic skid-steer.
Used to own a snake named Kitty.
Claims to be bipolar.
Favorite Movie: Rampage (Probably the 2009 film).
Favorite Song: "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida."
His favorite sandwich at Mama's Grill in Clairemont, San Diego is called the Outlaw.
Using all this information—again, provided by reddit's own membership—it's possible to show that Naratto's background matches that of a 24-year-old named Colton Goodbrand.
Here's how the two connect.
A Twitter account with the handle @Narratto belongs to a Colton R. Goodbrand from San Diego, California. The bio: "Neo-Hippie. Smoking pot for the greater good!" (@Narratto is spelled with one more additional "r" than the reddit account, perhaps because the alternate was already taken.)
Although it was apparently hacked in July 2011, producing a lingering trail of Spam links, this Twitter account dates back to November 2010. So it wasn't just created to associate the name Colton Goodbrand and a photo with the currently contentious handle. More than likely, the owner either can't access it or forgot about it, which is perhaps why @Narratto isn't deleted entirely or altered.
- Public records confirm a Colton Goodbrand with a February 1989 birthdate held an address in San Diego, California.
- Colton "Colt" Goodbrand has a lingering MySpace profile that lists his birthday as Feb 11th, 1989, his hometown as the Pacific Beach, and his occupation as Firing Control for the US Navy. There are also photos of someone described as Colton's sister.
Like Twitter's Colton R. Goodbrand, MySpace Colt alludes to recreational drugs ("In the past month have you been on Drugs: FUCK NO drugs are for looooosers lol," "Number of Drugs I have taken: Not gonna go into that...") and Canada. Photos look like the same person.
- There's also an extant Naratto on Help.com from 2010.
This Naratto profile matches biographical data for both reddit's Naratto and Colton Goodbrand, including San Diego, CA, a job in the US Navy FC3, and the hobby of smoking pot. Like MySpace Colton, he says he went to college briefly and mentions Canada. He too is prone to working out emotional conflicts online, here asking for advice about a messy work disagreement with his mother, who he wrote ran a medical-marijuana dispensary collective in San Diego.
- Colton Goodbrand's mother Michelle ran a California medical marijuana dispensary from 2010 until 2012.
This is according to Goodbrand's own LinkedIn profile, which cites her as the president of the since-shuttered company, California Healing. Public records confirm that Colton is related to this Michelle. On MySpace, a less professional-looking Michelle is friends with Myspace 2009 Colton.
- Help.com Naratto says that his favorite sport is Shito-Ryu Karate-Do. On YouTube, there's a December 2012 video of Colton Goodbrand demonstrating karate. The onscreen text identifies him as "Colton Ryder," reddit Naratto's middle name.
In the Gawker's comments section, Gizmodo emeritus editor Joel Johnson posted a message from someone he believes is Naratto's sister, who wrote: "My brother lives in another country, not sure what he does online. It's an ill-advised prank. I know no one who has overdosed and my brother is a scrawny gamer." Canada qualifies as another country. There's a Naratto on World of Warcraft. And Naratto's still-archived reddit comments include Nintendo and GameCube references. (Colton's sister didn't respond to our email or Facebook messages, though her YouTube channel is what's hosting the karate video.)
So why again do we care? Oh right, Naratto purportedly confessed to a murder. While this could all be a very badly misconstrued joke, Naratto never entirely backed away from his Confession Bear scenario. "There is SOME truth behind it, but I'm not saying what was true and what wasn't," he posted in a follow-up. He was peeved that his fellow redditors had aggregated his personal information, but he seemed far more upset about having his identity tied to whatever truth was behind the statement, typing, "Sure you can find information about ME, but linking me to something that happened is completely different."
It's unclear if that nebulous "something that happened" was, well, anything. Colton didn't return an email sent to an old address. Reached by phone late yesterday, Michelle Goodbrand said "Good luck with that" when asked about a familial overdose, and hung up. She did not return a follow-up message.
[photos via QuickMeme and YouTube]