Michael Brutsch, the Texas man behind the notorious Reddit troll Violentacrez, was fired this weekend, one day after Gawker outed him in an article Friday. This is not surprising, as Brutsch had built his online reputation on distributing pictures of underaged girls in bikinis and being offensive as possible.
Although Brutsch closed down his Violentacrez username soon after I contacted him and told him I knew his identity, he didn't stay away from Reddit for long. Since my article was published, Brutsch has been using his 'clean' Reddit handle, mbrutsch, to offer updates on the fallout.
Well, I had already told my boss about the impending article last week. He thought I was exaggerating the potential fallout. So when he called Saturday morning, I just said, "Told you so". He said not to come in Monday, and that he'd call when he knew more. All my remote access has been disabled, my health insurance and FSA were cancelled immediately (so they had to drag someone in over the weekend to do that). At this point, if any of the dozens of death threats I've gotten were to make good on their promises, at least my wife would have the insurance.
Since 2004, Brutsch has worked as a programmer at the Arlington, Tex., company First Cash Financial Services, which offers payday loans and operates pawn shops, according to his online resume. First Cash would not comment on Brutsch's employment when we called today, but Michael Brutsch's voicemail box at First Cash has been deactivated since Friday.
Meanwhile, the number of Reddit sections that have censored all Gawker content over our Violentacrez article continues to climb. Today the eighth most popular subreddit, TodayILearned, with over two million subscribers, joined the ban.
"As you may be aware, a recent article published by the Gawker network has disclosed the personal details of a long-standing user of this site," wrote a TodayILearned moderator, "an egregious violation of the Reddit rules, and an attack on the privacy of a member of the Reddit community."
In fact, for a website that made its name crusading against the stifling anti-piracy SOPA bill, Reddit users' and administrators have proved surprisingly adept at censorship when it comes to this article. When the story was first published Friday afternoon, Reddit's administrators censored the URL site-wide for about a day. (They did the same thing with Jezebel's story on creepshots last week.) This was supposedly done because our story violated a Reddit rule against posting identifying information of Redditors ("doxing," in Reddit terminology), not because its contents were embarrassing to them. But on Saturday Reddit administrator Erik Martin admitted to Buzzfeed the was a mistake and lifted the ban. Since then, Reddit's volunteer moderators, who are given full control over the subreddits they moderate, have been banning users simply for submitting links that mention the controversy.