Internet's biggest troll says sorry... 'to some degree'
Blogger behind 'jailbait' forum claims Reddit staff 'encouraged' him
A man recently dubbed the "biggest troll" in the history of the internet has offered a cautious apology, saying he is "to some degree" sorry for his online behaviour, but blaming it on an addiction that was cruelly exploited by his favourite social networking website.
Michael Brutsch, a 49-year-old computer programmer from Arlington in Texas, says he spent years posting controversial and often questionably-legal photographs, as well as writing offensive messages, because he "wanted to unwind" after a long day at work.
The admission came almost a week after Mr Brutsch was exposed as the man behind "Violentacrez," a prolific user of the website Reddit who created about 600 notorious but popular photo-sharing forums with names like "rapebait," "misogyny," and "chokeabitch."
Among his most controversial creations were the Reddit pages "jailbait" and "creepshots," on which users would share suggestive images of teenage girls. Many of the photos appeared to have been taken without consent, and the exact age of their subjects remains unclear.
"With the rape and incest Reddits, I have come around over the last few months to understand that some of these things can be harmful to some people" said Mr Brutsch, a married father-of-two. "All I can say is that... I'm sorry. I have made mistakes. I am to some degree apologising for what I did."
Mr Brutsch was speaking to CNN almost a week after his real identity was unmasked by the website Gawker. Since then, he has faced widespread vilification and been fired by his employer, a local financial services company. "I've lost my job, I'm going to lose my home, my health insurance is gone, my wife is disabled," he complained. Mr Brutsch told how he got "the biggest thrill" setting up offensive web forums and then reading comments from people who were upset by them. One of the most notorious threads managed by his alter ego "Violentacrez" contained photographs taken by a man claiming to be a high-school teacher, who appeared to have used a smart-phone to surreptitiously take photos of unsuspecting female students. Despite the questionable legality of such images, Mr Brutsch claims he was "encouraged and enabled" in his on-line activities by Reddit, who profited from the huge traffic that his most controversial photo forums would generate.
He claimed to have built a close relationship with the site's senior staff. "I had been tasked [by] admins with making certain that there was no overt or real child porn: no naked children, no naked teenagers, no children in swimsuits," he revealed.
Reddit has not publicly discussed its relationship with Mr Brutsch. But in an email to moderators shortly after he was unmasked, the firm's CEO, Yishan Wong, said: "We stand for free speech. This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits (forums on Reddit). We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it."
Somewhat surprisingly, given his newfound notoriety, Mr Brutsch said his wife, Dani and their two children are standing by him. And he promised that his career as a "troll" was now over. "Violentacrez is what I did in my spare time to unwind from my 10-hour-a-day job. That's how I relaxed in the evening. I no longer need to relax, because I no longer have a job."
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...