If you’re a fan of trolling freely expressing yourself online without a VPN, it might be a good time to reconsider. Anytime you access the internet you are being tracked and your personal IP is available to the ISP and in some cases, other users and even the websites you visit. Always make sure to use a VPN like TorGuard to encrypt your web traffic and hide your IP address. Or, you could end up like user “HanAssHoleSolo” who was forced to apologize under threat of alleged blackmail from CNN.
Just today, CNN published an article about how they tracked down and identified a Reddit user to get an apology. Reddit user “HanAssHoleSolo” claimed credit for a tweet posted by Donald Trump in which a GIF was posted that showed Trump pummeling a wrestler with the CNN logo imposed on his face. When the tweet was published last Sunday, it had evolved into a video with full sound.
Seeking acclaim, HanAssHoleSolo took credit for the post writing on reddit: ”Holy s—!! I wake up and have my morning coffee and who retweets my shit post but the MAGA EMPORER himself!!! I am honored!!”
But soon after his victory lap, his post history which included various anti-semitic imagery and other prejudiced content started to circulate on social media. CNN started to investigate and shortly after obtained the reddit user’s real name and contact information. While not legal, 4Chan users are speculating that Time Warner pulled the user’s IP address to provide it to CNN (Time Warner owns CNN). If this is true, CNN could be in some deep trouble. After being contacted both on phone and email by CNN, the Reddit user was forced into a corner to apologize for his post and user history.
“First of all, I would like to apologize to the members of the reddit community for getting this site and this sub embroiled in a controversy that should never have happened,” he wrote. “I would also like to apologize for the posts made that were racist, bigoted, and anti-semitic. I am in no way this kind of person, I love and accept people of all walks of life and have done so for my entire life. I am not the person that the media portrays me to be in real life, I was trolling and posting things to get a reaction from the subs on reddit and never meant any of the hateful things I said in those posts. I would never support any kind of violence or actions against others simply for what they believe in, their religion, or the lifestyle they choose to have. Nor would I carry out any violence against anyone based upon that or support anyone who did.”
To butter up CNN as well, the Reddit user also made a more specific apology to CNN.
“The meme was created purely as satire, it was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation,” he wrote. “I had no idea anyone would take it and put sound to it and then have it put up on the President’s Twitter feed. It was a prank, nothing more. What the President’s feed showed was not the original post that was posted here, but loaded up somewhere else and sound added to it then sent out on Twitter. I thought it was the original post that was made and that is why I took credit for it. I have the highest respect for the journalist community and they put their lives on the line every day with the jobs that they do in reporting the news.”
Since the Reddit user apologized, CNN wrote that they no longer plan to publish his identity. “CNN is not publishing “HanA**holeSolo’s” name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same.” The framework of the paragraph suggests they were planning to leak his personal information had he not apologized. Additionally, CNN wrote that they “reserve the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”