It’s a tale as old as time, particularly in the digital age. Boy (actually an adult) meets (12 year old) girl. Girl is persuaded to send a nude picture to boy. Boy extorts girl with blackmail threats. Girl falls into depression. Boy releases picture, community bully girl, girl kills herself to escape the psychological torture.
This is a very sad story. I’ll let the 16 year old girl, Amanda Todd explain herself, posthumously on this video posted on her YouTube account last month. I dare you to watch the whole story:
She’s gone now and can no longer be reached by the internet trolls who pursued her relentlessly, leaving particularly nasty comments on Facebook, YouTube and Reddit.
The Hacker group Anonymous claim to have identified the man responsible:
Only it turns out that Anonymous might have gotten the wrong guy.
Reddit in particular has a section (subreddit) called r/creepshots which basically encourages creepy guys to take photographs of unsuspecting women in as creepy-a-manner-as-possible and to share them online. A couple of weeks ago, a substitute teacher in Georgia was found to be posting photographs of his students to this board and has since been fired.
While we’re on Reddit – Adrian Chen the top dude at Gawker recently outed Michael Brutsch – a 49 year old programmer from a financial company in Texas who claims to have posted racist and sexual images of unsuspecting young girls on reddit as a way to “unwind from work”. It’s a very interesting read: http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web.
"My wife is disabled. I got a home and a mortgage, and if this hits the fan, I believe this will affect negatively on my employment," he said. "I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time." – Michael Brutsch (Internet Troll).
Negatively affect on his employment, it will and this fucker should have thought about his employment, his disabled wife and his home before bullying others. The trouble is, a lot of internet trolls and hateful people enjoy what they do from behind the assumed immunity of their keyboard and monitor fortress. After posting pictures and comments insulting people’s dead relatives, they make their own pathetic lives feel just a little bit better.And they do it capriciously, anonymously (or so they think) and without facing the consequences.
The sheer douche-baggery of Michael Brutsch has even gotten him an interview on CNN with Anderson Cooper, airing tomorrow:
GRIFFIN: ANDERSON OUTED YOU WITHOUT SAYING YOUR NAME A YEAR AGO, RIGHT? YOU COULD HAVE STOPPED THEN. IS THE ONLY REASON YOUR’E STOPPING BECAUSE WE NOW KNOW WHO YOU ARE?
BRUTSCH: YES. I MEAN THAT IS, YOU KNOW, 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 IN THE EVENING, BECAUSE I NO LONGER HAVE A JOB. THAT AND THE FACT THAT THE CURTAIN’S BEEN PULLED BACK AND EVERYONE CAN SEE THE PUPPETEER…THAT AND THE FACT THAT I HAVE, AS WITH THE RAPE AND PREGNANT REDDITS, I HAVE COME AROUND OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS TO UNDERSTAND THAT SOME OF THESE THINGS CAN BE HARMFUL TO OTHER PEOPLE.
What about Freedom of Speech? Well, Reddit’s view is that, “We stand for free speech. This means we are not going to ban distasteful subreddits. We will not ban legal content even if we find it odious or if we personally condemn it.”. Of course, they exercised their stand for free speech by retaliating against the Gawker doc dropping of their creepiest resident internet troll by promptly banning all Gawker links on their site. Free speech has limits and clearly hypocrisy does not.
The story has been covered already in plenty of places but I feel that i have a couple of points to add to the discussion that appear yet to be raised;
1. Freedom of Speech
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
– Evelyn Beatrice Hall, The Friends of Voltaire (1906)
It’s easy to argue that Free Speech is fundamentally important and should be protected. It’s much harder to defend Reddit’s CreepZone, the candid creepy photography of unsuspecting young women in public for the purposes of communal sexual gratification as “freedom of speech”. I wouldn’t seek to end this practice (although I find it odious and unethical), I do believe that freedom of speech has limits. Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, Screaming outside an operating theatre or distracting a driver or pilot for instance would be considered potentially damaging. People generally don’t do these things though as they have no expectation of anonymity. The internet changes this and it is good that this particular troll has become unemployable because of his actions.
Speech must be free and yet the words must have an owner.
2. Safety and Abuse Reporting
While writing this short article, I noticed a lot of comments on Amanda Todd related video’s (and her own YouTube channel) celebrating her death and making vile and odious commentary typical of extreme internet trolling. Not wanting her family to see these comments, I flagged the troll’s account within YouTube and was presented with the following dialog.
“Please note that we only consider Harrassment complaints regarding content targeting you or someone you represent as a legal guardian. Third-party complaints will not be processed.”
Well that’s a lot of fucking good, isn’t it, YouTube? This is completely unacceptable. Presumably the analysts designing the Safety and Abuse Reporting feature don’t care much for children once they’re dead and it’s clearly up to the family of the deceased to sit in front of their computers 24/7 filing harassment reports, isn’t it?
YouTube – sort it out.
- Education: If you’re reading this and have any kids in your family, educate them about the dangers of predatory and abusive relationships.
- Happiness is important: Don’t put up with bullying. Deal with it. If the school won’t deal with it – you can leave. Life is too short to spend time around people who suck the life out of you.
- Intervene with the bully’s: Identify and address the problems with the bully’s directly.