The mystery of a troll who made r/the_donald subreddit

There is a shadowy figure lurking somewhere on the internet.

Mysterious man in his thirties.

Not much is known about this man, but one thing is certain – he spends disturbing amount of time online.

He is a master troll who has multiple accounts on various social media platforms, and although his internet persona is well known by the connoisseurs of the online community, he is actively trying to hide his real life identity.

For all we know, he is perhaps a happily married guy with two childred, or maybe he lives alone with his parents, perhaps he is a basement dweller with no real life friends, some say he is a paid government employee whose job is to police the online community – everything is possible, nothing is certain.

His digital footprint goes way back to the days when the link-sharing website Digg was popular.

His username on Digg was jcm267.

Back then, he came into contact with other trolls. They called themselves Digg Patriots, they had their own Yahoo Group where they coordinated their attempts to moderate what will be popular on Digg.

People were accusing them that they were deliberately suppressing liberal stories submitted to the site.

Whenever someone posted a liberal story on Digg, jcm267 and his online fellows would clicked on a „Bury“ button on Digg to make the story disappear in the nothingness. They were really active, they spent hours online leaving comments and arguing with strangers online.

Digg Patriots was a group of about one hundred conservative members and it was able to bury 90 percent of articles by certain websites and stories within three hours of their submission.

Manipulating Digg, they were able to ensure meteoric rise of a DP-backed blog, The Rattington Post, a blog most knows  for its logo – an oversized image of then President Obama’s face photoshopped on the body of a rat.

When news broke that jcm267 and his online fellows are conducting widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives, few Digg Patriots members have deleted their own accounts. jcm267 was banned from Digg.

They later deleted their Yahoo Group, began to reorganize on a new forum, and with a few exceptions began to deny involvement in the scheme.

Some members of the Digg Patriots tried to justify their behavior by saying that conservative articles rarely get much traction on Digg.

However, Digg was not their only playground.

Username jcm267 migrated to Reddit, he also had multiple Twitter accounts, a Youtube channel, his username was appearing on multiple forums and online communities.

It was clear that this young man spent a lot of time online. He was commenting on various platforms, trolled other users and was able to spread his shady influence across platforms.

On Reddit he became a moderator of multiple subreddits, he also opened multiple accounts, he was a master sockpuppeteer, creator of multiple fake accounts that enabled him to dominate comment forums.

As a moderator of multiple subreddits, he was able to ban other users from engaging in discussion – in the world of internet trolls he was a powerful figure – however this power means little in real life.

One must wonder, why the effort? Why would someone go to such lengths to manage multiple coordinated accounts, was it just for fun or was it something more practical?

Jcm267 and his pals could have made some money out of everything if they wanted to.

Being able to manipulate multiple subreddits can be a good business, being able to prompt up a link from a certain site or a video can make a video go viral, but there is no proof that Jcm267 made money of his sockpuppeting scheme – perhaps he was in it just for kicks.  

However, his omnipresence on Reddit prompted multiple conspiracy theories.

Some were saying that Jcm267 and his Reddit Crew are a part of some Astroturf campaign, that this is an organized activity intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising, grassroots movement in support of a conservative policies, other were saying that Jcm267 was part of some evil Zionist scheme to control public discourse, but like with most wild theories – there were no proofs for either claim.

Interesting part of this story starts when in July 2015 when Jcm267 created r/The_Donald subreddit.

It is not clear did Jcm267 created this subreddit, or did he adopted it from someone else, but within days of being created, The_Donald subreddit was in jcm267 ‘s control. He was a head moderator.

The Internet Archive’s first snapshot of the site is from about two months after it was formed. It had just 228 subscribers (called “Americans” at the time).

The early days of /r/The_Donald were marked by most posts being by jcm267. There were very few memes and the stickied posts.

Later, when reporters from Motherboard contacted jcm267 he said; “I actually figured it would just be a nice place for a small group of supporters to have fun triggering anti-Trump people and, frankly, laughing with Trump at the same time”.

However, r/The_Donald quickly became very popular.

Apparently, somewhere in 2015. a user named CisWhiteMaelstrom messaged jcm267 and others mods saying he has a plan“.

„I remember him saying we’d have hundreds of thousands of readers there and I was very skeptical about that,” jcm267 told reporters from MSNBC.

CisWhiteMaelstrom’s favorite tactic was to direct Trump fans to push deliberately dumb or offensive posts to the front page of Reddit and then laugh at the backlash when users took them seriously.

Soon, front page of Reddit a.k.a. “the front page of the Internet” has been flooded with pro-Trump material.

In March 2016, r/The_Donald scored nearly 52 million page-views, up from 12.6 million in February and 1.3 million in January.

Then on April 23rd 2016 something weird happened.

Man hiding behind the username jcm267 deleted his 7+ year old Reddit account.

He clicked on „USER SETTINGS“ button, scrolled down till he looked a „DEACTIVATE ACCOUNT“ button and clicked on it.

Automated message titled „SORRY TO SEE YOU GO!“ popped up, but he just scrolled downwards, clicked on a box marked „I UNDERSTAND THAT DEACTIVATED ACCOUNTS ARE NOT RECOVERABLE“, and then he clicked one more time, and his 7+ year old Reddit account was flushed down the toilet. This caused quite the confusion.

After all, he was the founder and head moderator of one of the fastest growing subreddits on the Reddit platform – r/The_Donald. Just before he deleted his account, jcm267, also demodded 2nd 3rd and 4th moderator in command, making Ciswhitemaelstrom the new top moderator of the  /r/The_Donald and giving him complete control.

Conspiracy theories started to appear like mushrooms after the rain.

People noticed that immediately after becoming head moderator CisWhiteMaelstrom proceeds to sticky a GoFundMe to raise money for “his friend in Houston who was dealing with the flooding”, It raised over $2,000. Many started to suspect that jcm267 sold r/The_Donald to CisWhiteMaelstrom and were accusing „Cis“ that he is trying to recoup the money he’d spent to acquire the sub by asking users to donate to his friend’s flood fund in Houston.

CisWhiteMaelstrom denied buying the sub, claiming that one of the demodded users NYPD-32 “quit” because he was “butthurt”.

After that, NYPD-32 came out saying he didn’t quit and that he doesnt know why he was demodded.

NYPD-32 knew that jcm267 had multiple accounts, and he noticed that coinciding with him deleting his account he made his alt /u/JerkStores a moderator in his favorite subreddits.

NYPD-32  messaged jcm267 asking him did „Cis“ threaten him to give him control over /r/The_Donald. Jcm267 was cryptic, he was saying that someone threatened him, that he had been in e-mail contacts with someone who sent him ultimatums, that he had to delete his account and he thought that the best way of action is to leave the subreddit to CisWhiteMaelstrom.

Weird thing is that before jcm267 deleted his account, someone posted a video on Youtube threatening to expose the identity of r/The_Donald moderators. This is perhaps the weirdest part of the entire story. Jcm267 said that the person from this video had the same crazy/emotional tone as the person who threatened over the e-mails.

On the other hand, perhaps Jcm267 and „Cis“ just wanted to make money out of the subreddit so they made a scheme to get rid of moderators that could have been in their way.

Some people claimed that before he deleted his account, jcm267 made a sockpuppet, /u/venganzdivino, a moderator of his most prized possession: /r/The_Donald, and he also opened an account with a username tehdonald that enabled him to continue to moderate the subreddit.

Perhaps sticking a GoFundMe campaign on top of /r/The_Donald just after jcm267 demodded top three other moderators was their way to milk Trump supporters for their money?

Perhaps everything was just a money-grab operation?

Like many other claims in this story, that can never be confirmed.

The fact is that after sticking interestingly timed “donation” post , CisWhiteMaelstrom also heavily deleted comments by subscribers upset with the entire thing. Around half the comments look like they were removed, according to one of the former moderators.

After the entire controversy the drama died out, Jcm267 continued to lurk on Reddit thanks to his many aliases, and CisWhiteMaelstrom was ousted from /r/The_Donald over allegations he planned to join forces with prominent white nationalists like Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer to coordinate support for Trump.  

Legend of Jcm267 continue to live in the dark corners of the Internet, he was an inspiration for many wild conspiracy theories – one of the craziest is from 4chan that he is a Hillary Clinton supporter, and that he launched the_Donald in order to make Trump supporters look bad.

„The fundamental message behind the_Donald was going to be unabashed racism, antisemitism, and bigotry, in an attempt to submerge the online image of trump supporters“, claim this theory.

This theory even goes a step further by claiming that the original modstaff from /r/The_Donald made attempts to monetize the subreddit and direct those funds straight into HRC’s campaign courtesy of anonymous “benefactors”.

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