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Confession Bear is an advice animal image macro series featuring a photo of a Malayan sun bear leaning against a log. The images are captioned with confessions about taboo behaviors and controversial opinions that are often kept secret for fear of being ostracized.
The original bear photo (shown below, left) was taken by photojournalist Clemens Bilan and was submitted to the stock photo website Getty Images on April 12th, 2007. Several years later on June 21st, 2012, Redditor F-18Bro submitted a post titled “I have a lot of weird stuff that I’d like to b able to confess to reddit so i can get it off my chest, so I made Confession Bear”, which included another image macro of the bear with the caption “I absolutely love / the smell of my own balls” (shown below, right). Within four days, the post received over 13,000 up votes and 1,100 comments.
On June 21st, 2012, several hours after F-18Bro’s Reddit post, a page for “Confession Bear” was created on the image macro website Quickmeme. The same day, the single topic blog ConfessionBear.com was launched and the @ConfessionBear_ Twitter account was created. Also on June 21st, Redditor Zmo64 submitted a post titled “Confession Bear”, featuring a Bear Grylls image macro with the caption “Sometimes / I drink my own piss” (shown below, left). Shortly after, Redditor PhtoJoe submitted a Futurama Fry example commenting on the captions used in the series (shown below, right).
On June 23rd, the Internet humor site The FW published a post titled “Funniest Memes of the Week”, which featured Confession Bear as the staff favorite. The meme has continued to spread on the microblogging site Tumblr under the tag “#confession bear.” As of June 25th, 2012, the Quickmeme page has accumulated over 1,800 submissions.
On August 6th, 2012, Redditor Zachcvh submitted an image macro of a bored-looking tiger paired with the caption “I ate that bear” in an /r/AdviceAnimals post titled “Confession Tiger.” In the following 24 hours, a number of additional “Confession Tiger” image macros placing the tiger and the bear in a rivalry were submitted to the subreddit. Throughout 2012 and 2013, at least 80 image macro instances of the Confession Tiger were submitted to Reddit’s /r/AdviceAnimals, although many of them turned out to be reposts or variations on the existing theme of the tiger’s jealousy towards the bear.
On April 27th, 2013, Redditor Notmiefault submitted an image macro titled “Confession Kid” to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit, in which the OP recalled his naive belief as a child that automatic doors were controlled by an unseen operator using a surveillance camera (shown below, left). Throughout May, dozens of additional Confession Kid image macros looking back on embarrassing memories and tales from childhood continued to surface on Reddit’s /r/AdviceAnimals.
Murder Confession Controversy
On April 7th, 2013, Redditor Naratto submitted a Confession Bear image macro to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit, which included a caption confessing to the murder of his sister’s meth-addicted boyfriend (shown below). Within 24 hours, the post received over 10,100 up votes and 3,100 comments.
In the comments section of the post, Redditors began discussing the authenticity of the confession, with many noting its similarity to a scene in which the character Walt witnesses a heroin addict die in the television drama series Breaking Bad. Other Redditors posted his name, Facebook page, employer and other personally identifiable information in the comments section, which were subsequently removed by moderators. Naratto responded by submitting a Super Cool Ski Instructor image macro in a new post on the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit, claiming that the confession was just a joke with “some truth behind it” (shown below) before deleting his entire account.
The same day, Redditor Alcoholocaustic submitted a post to the /r/KarmaConspiracy subreddit, which accused Naratto of posting the Confession Bear image macro to gain karma on the site. Within 24 hours, the post gained upwards of 2,000 up votes and 120 comments. On April 8th, Redditor lemon_difficult submitted a Confession Bear image macro to the /r/circlejerk subreddit, featuring a caption confessing to the murder of an Office Depot employee with his own stapler (shown below). In the following eight hours, the post accumulated more than 4,000 up votes and 130 comments.
Also on April 8th, the Internet news blog The Daily Dot published an article about the Reddit post, noting that a murder had been previously confessed on an Internet support group in 1998. Also on April 8th, the confession was reported on by several other news sites, including Gawker, Examiner, UpRoxx, International Business Times and MSN. Several image macros referencing the confession were created shortly thereafter, featuring other advice animal characters like Internet Husband, Futurama Fry and Bad Luck Brian (shown below).
Upon discovering that Naratto did not use an ad hoc account (also known as a throwaway account) to post his Confession Bear image macro, Redditors began sifting through his post history to gather clues about his real identity, soon leading to the doxing of his age, birthdate, middle name, military record and work information. His handle Naratto was also traced to a long-forgotten Twitter account that belongs to a San Diego resident named Colton R. Goodbrand.
On April 10th, Gawker published an article detailing Naratto’s online identity with numerous links to his social media profiles on Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn, as well as a YouTube video starring Goodbrand. Three days later, a San Diego NBC news affiliate reported that the local police had received a tip about the Gawker post and were launching an investigation with their cold case team. On April 16th, Gawker received an e-mail from Goodbrand confirming that he did make the Confession Bear post and threatening legal action if the site didn’t remove the article containing his personal information. As of April 17th, the post is still online, but a similar post on the Daily Mail has been removed.
The Daily Mail – Is this the 24-year-old Reddit user accused of using meme to confess murder? (Removed)
7 San Diego – Police Investigate Alleged Online Murder Confession