An Internet storm of controversy has erupted following the public outing of a notorious and anonymous online figure – a North Texas man who was fired from his IT job shortly after his real identity was revealed.
Last week Gawker published a lengthy article titled "Unmasking Reddit's Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web."
Violentacrez won his notoriety on Reddit as the anonymous guy behind a series of forums called sub-reddits with titles like Jailbait, Creepshots, BeatingWomen and others too offensive to name, including some racist and anti-semitic.
He's known for his skills at stirring the pot and being an Internet troll. His work is offensive, but not illegal.
It turns out he's Michael Brutsch of Arlington, a 49-year-old husband and father who worked for a financial services company.
Brutsch's front door currently warns journalists off with a sign that says, "No comment." But, he's posting openly on Reddit now as MBrutsch.
"I got fired Saturday morning by phone," he wrote.
He complained of "dozens of death threats." He reported that his wife is disabled and can't work and that he will quickly be out of money and health insurance. He also asked supporters to send money to a PayPal account.
Neighbors are familiar with Reddit, but surprised that the notorious Violentacrez is the man next door.
"They're just pushing people's buttons, just pissing people off. That's all they do," Kyle Kercher said of Internet trolls in general.
"I would never imagine that he's pushing the limits like that," added Daniel Nguyen.
And they're amazed by the furor over Brutsch's outing.
"How he's national now. And that it's gone viral now, that's what's interesting. That's kind of crazy," they said.
Attorney John Browning, author of "The Lawyer's Guide to Social Networks" said he doesn't think people should expect an absolute right to remain anonymous online.
"It's curious. Here he and his proponents have pointed to the sanctity of the First Amendment. And that's great but that very same First Amendment is what protects that journalist's right to talk about what he's doing and draw public attention to it. We live in a social laboratory and fresh air is a great disinfectant," he said.
A lot of journalists have been trying to reach Brutsch without much success. He posted on Reddit that he plans to do just one network television interview Thursday night to make his case.
KDFW FOX 4
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