Give an Internet Award to Reddit Troll Violentacrez Brutsch
    By Sascha Vongehr | October 18th 2012 03:33 AM | 18 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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    And once again I am amazed at the shortsighted, self-righteous moralizing of those who pretend to be all progressive, hip cyber age people. Now Gawker outed an internet troll, with no regard for that such was bound to destroy his professional life, and instead of the internet being aghast with what is nothing but a modern witch-hunt, you see them outing themselves as being no more than the narrow minded bible thumpers they truly were all along, see VICE magazine (I don’t link those foolish pretend-bad-boy Goody Two-shoes no more) and even right here on Science2.0, calling Michael Brutsch a"cheater", and not just in some informal language way, which would be relatively nice, but invoking the very roots of altruism in evolution, “cheater” as in the game-theoretical defector from cooperation, who in some deeply flawed, psychopathological way is what is wrong with and dangerous to our almost perfect Western society.

    I say: Gawker should be deeply ashamed!

    Michael Brutsch at a Reddit meet-up. Source: gawker

    Trolls are important! Brutsch trolled for a good reason, and he even said so, and from what he did in detail, one can believe him, and that he is no Einstein and thus may not be perfect, and that he had also fun doing so, well if that counts as get-the-pitchforks-out worthy, you know, having also fun doing something worthwhile, then please all science bloggers here stop blogging at once!

    It is trolls who uncover where our internet based discourses are vulnerable to failure. Every discussion that is derailed by a troll has thus been naturally selected out of the internet as something too easily manipulated, every such forum is such crashed as not properly moderated in order to ensure a useful interaction with worth-listening-to participants. Trolls are not the problem - those who bite their bait are!

    Trolls do precisely what viruses and hackers did to computing generally: Without them, our computing systems would be much less secure, dangerously unstable, totally vulnerable to for example governments and their cyber warfare research programs, which secretly develop viruses and social media manipulation protocols in order to derail computing infrastructures whenever it is most convenient for them, which is precisely when and where it is most important that they are not so easily derailed.

    Brutsch did things like putting anti-Semitic comments although he has a Jewish background himself - i.e. perfectly good troll stuff. He did little more but post pictures that were legal and available on the net. Jailbait was a bunch of pictures like teenagers facebook profile avatars, nothing much to see at all, plus "sexualizing", what ever the hell that is (a new PC word you need to know apparently), comments attached. It was nowhere even close to the pedophilia going on at a usual little-princess pageant, and after all, reddit users voted Brutsch's works to the top! He has done us all a service by increasing visibility around how internet mob-democracy based things like reddit work.

    I hope somebody will offer this able man a new and better job soon and I hope he goes on to troll. Trolls are particularly skilled and aware of what usual users are mostly blind to, namely how irrational nonsense like sexism is what drives for example reddit all the darn time.

    Troll witch-hunts shoot the messenger. Brutsch is no Bradley Manning, but shooting the messenger is not what internet based transparency and all that is about!


    If a semi-public figure who runs forums on a major website that promote predatory and stalkerish behavior and exploitation of kids for masturbatory purposes, becomes the subject of negative press, it's really his own fault. I don't see this kind of circling of the wagons to protect the women and children whose non-consensual photos were distributed to thousands of online pervs.

    Yes and no. Negative press - sure. Dealing with the issues in civilized ways - sure. But what we see happening today is lynch mob mentality. "exploitation of kids for masturbatory purposes" - close pageants. "non-consensual photos were distributed" - not what mostly happened, though he did some crap, but again, nothing that should be handled in the way it was done now. Important is: He is criticized for trolling. Trolling is good and he has done good trolling, for example, put the same behavior that is otherwise endorsed by society into a slightly different context, like adding in writing below pictures what magazine editors think anyway (which is why they use the pictures they do!). Good trolling triggers the irrational responses of those that are the actual problem. This means that there is a problem, and the problem is not the troll.

    The troll is a messenger - he uses direct action in order to point to something that should not be, like pseudo-democratic internet discussions that deceive people into thinking there is some romantic concept of free speech actualized in the Western world as if you have a say because you can vote my posts down on reddit. He rattled our chains and regularily triggered "discussions" on free speech. Who of the many who are outraged can claim such?
    Hey man, can I get the number of your crack dealer? You are getting the good stuff!

    Look. Mostly nobody care when people post anonymously. They only care when you do ultra creepy shit like this, or play dangerous politics. Now, I'm all for protecting the latter at any cost. But the former... I don't think we have to pretend that because we hold one form of anonymous behavior sacred, we have to allow all.

    Violentnutz, or whatever the fuck his name is, posted photos and enabled the posting of photos of countless women whose privacy was violated hourly. He now faces the same shame. And the only reason, is because he made people care enough to out him.

    So the trick here, is to not be such a horrible, horrible dick that you make people care enough to ask the question: Who the shit is this? Let's get 'em.

    First they came for the creeps...

    He didn't break any laws. He was lynched for unpopular speech. It could happen to anyone who expressed unpopular views. (Whether it's political views or views up people's skirts isn't the issue).

    I'm not sold on the "trolls are good" thing. Diversity of views is good. Spamming boards with invective and BS doesn't seem like a necessary role to me. I don't see the value in posting butt photos.

    If we need trolls to test our discourse, do we then need arsonists to test our architects?

    Trolls are messengers? What's the message? Seems like noise to me. I think they're anti-messengers. (I didn't read anything he wrote, so maybe I'm missing out on some trollic wisdom?)

    I can defend the guy's right to be a creepy troll, but I can't see the value in it.

    I hope, Human Sascha, that you will allow me to indulge in a little Hedgehog theology.

    The form of protest by Pussy Riot in the Mosow cathedral may have been quite objectionable.

    However, to us Hedgehogs it appears that God was also protesting through them, saying how objectionable he finds it that the church should act as mouthpiece for the man in power.

    Not that we find Vladimir Putin so objectionable - if only the leaders of the West displayed even half of his virtues. But for the Grand Panjandrum (or what ever they call the big noise) Kiril to so cravenly worship the seat of secular power is an abomination.

    I hope you see the connection.
    I hope you see the connection.
    Well, I see some connection; whether it is the hedgehog one, I do not know. In some sense, Pussy Riot trolled (consciously incited people they knew how to push the buttons with). Moreover, because in that case it is sexy women and they do it for the (in the Western media's eyes) "right" reasons, the internet mob supports it. Is that it?
    The (Hedgehog) theological connection is that while Pussy Riot's behaviour appears blasphemous, they are bringing to light something which is a much greater offence in the eyes of God.

    However, it is difficult to take this further, because when you say
    Brutsch trolled for a good reason, and he even said so, and from what he did in detail, one can believe him,
    you do not provide a link to help clarify your statement.
    Obviously trolls suck. So you don't feed them. You ignore them, which is easy. But the idea that women and teens were victims violated by him is so over the top. It's basically innocuous Facebook/flickr photos posted in a place for the enjoyment of people who don't have such innocuous thoughts. This type of work around to connect it as if he's posting child porn is a joke.

    Gerhard Adam
    I do find it interesting that once someone is "outed" then apparently they become fair game for all manner of disproportionate abuses.  I see where he's called a sexual predator, a pedophile, lost his job, losing his home ...

    We don't even do this with murderers.

    Get a grip people.

    Show me one link that qualifies as "heinous".  Of course there aren't any, because if there were an ounce of credibility to accusations of sexual predation, pedophilia, or child pornography, then the laws that were broken would be sufficient to take action.

    The truth is that NOTHING of consequence happened, and this is just the normal internet outrage that everyone feels entitled to participate in.  This is nothing but a digital lynch mob.

    Mundus vult decipi
    I have never visited Reddit (didn’t realize it was so popular (Where have I been?)) and I can say today with almost absolute certainty that the article linked in this blog post is the first time I have visited Gawker. As I have had to remind my teenage children multiple times, the first amendment does not give you freedom from social responsibility for the content of your speech. This guy did things people found unfavorable and offensive. He won't be arrested and tried for it under criminal law but all other recriminations are fair game.
    Some might say this is a matter of a right to anonymity, and although the Gawker article admits the troll's name was leaked, it also mentions a few occasions where this guy exhibited less than stellar diligence in protecting his anonymity. I despise the current political climate where the phrase “personal responsibility” is used to justify apathy and selfishness. But in this case I think this guy should take some personal responsibility for his incendiary actions and his lack of effort in protecting his anonymity. Just like when you lose money on the stock exchange due to a lack of diligence, or require major repairs to your car or house due to lack of proper maintenance, for this guy who should have understood the stakes of playing such a controversial role on such an immensely popular website (apparently ;-)), “It’s on him” for this situation I which he has found himself.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...but all other recriminations are fair game.
    Sure ... let's forget all about due process.  So, losing his job, his home and whatever else is "fair game".  The typical lynch mob mentality.

    Well, that can sure save some tax dollars.  Why have laws and courts, when the mob can simply decide what is "fair".
    Mundus vult decipi
    There is no “Due process” involved because the first amendment protects him from prosecution in criminal court, provided all of the pictures and posts he posted are in fact legal. If an actual physical “lynch mob” attacked him physically or threatened him in person, he could press charges as this supposed “lynch mob” will have violated a criminal law, but they won’t be prosecuted for “violating his right to free speech.”
    As far as what is determining what is “Fair,” We have three branches of government that play a role in determining and enforcing what is “Fair” in regards to all sorts of things in legal matters. In the court of public opinion however, they are mute and powerless. When this guy was exposed, it was in the court of public opinion where he was judged and from which his repercussions were dealt.

    True, his persecution was probably as legal as the stuff he posted.

    I don't like vigilantism and mob mentality. Especially when it comes to speech rights - and opportunities. I think either of those are worse for society than trolling.

    I don't like breaking anonymity, either. Especially when it comes to speech rights. Internet anonymity is more important than protecting the anonymous people whose clothed asses were displayed, or whose feelings got hurt when this lout used inflammatory language.

    It's an ugly way for society to behave in response to ugly behavior. At least the troll has an excuse - he's a full time jerk. What's society's excuse?

    I'm not crying for the guy himself. I don't share Sascha's appreciation for spam, and I doubt this guy's contribution to international discourse will be missed. But it wasn't worth it.

    Onanymous, you make some valid points. I still don’t think internet anonymity is guaranteed by the first amendment and it is something that should be zealously safeguarded (and not left to the goodwill of society or the government) if an individual finds it important.
    I'd also like to point out that this guy lives in Texas which is an "at will" employment state. ( If this guy lived in a state with stronger employment laws, he might not have lost his job.
    The sad truth is that people are fired for less than this guy did in Texas every day. I live in Texas and once worked for a company that was considered “one of the best to work for” by certain business magazines. And the fact that we worked in an “at will” state (and what that meant to our future employment) was brought up by coworkers and management on a regular basis. I find it hard to believe this guy lived and worked in Texas and didn’t know the stakes of losing his anonymity.
    Which leads to question exactly how much of this supposed “Lynch Mob” that happened online led to what is the most serious consequence of his outing, the loss of his job and benefits, and how much was due to the labor laws of the state in which he resides and works.

    Gerhard Adam
    Which leads to question exactly how much of this supposed “Lynch Mob” that happened online led to what is the most serious consequence of his outing, the loss of his job and benefits, and how much was due to the labor laws of the state in which he resides and works.
    Sure, but then we might as well burn the Constitution.  If the rights in the Constitution don't mean anything because the law can be subverted by economic blackmail and coercion, then what's the point? 

    This is precisely the problem I have with many of these actions, whether it be from Don Imus to this guy.  I don't have to approve of what they do, but it is exceedingly disturbing when individual's rights are paid lip service to, while employers and others can choose to take whatever action they like, effectively creating a kangaroo court of public opinion.

    So, apparently as long as the media can out someone for their two or three days of rating boost, then it doesn't matter if we ruin an individual's life despite not having committed a crime.  The public has been entertained and, in the end, that's all the matters.

    As I said previously, if someone did this to him [lost his job] because he was a parolee having committed murder, there'd be all manner of protests over how unfair it was that he be fired.   It's a sick double standard and for a supposed "nation of laws" its a travesty of social behavior that all those involved should be ashamed of. 

    The only difference here is that he's been implicated by the media in child porn [despite there being no legal basis for such an assertion].  Since this is the 21st century equivalent of being accused of witchcraft, it's not surprising to see the same justifications and rationalizations as employed by the Salem Witch Trials being employed here.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think that Brutsch got what he deserved.
    I guess you also then think that his "victims" got what they deserved, otherwise your opinion is not consistent in a modern society that appreciates the rule of law under due process.