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Linus Tech Tips temporarily halts all production after allegations of frequent factual inaccuracies in videos and toxic work culture

Linus Tech Tips has 15.4 million subscribers on YouTube. (Source: LTT)
Linus Tech Tips has 15.4 million subscribers on YouTube. (Source: LTT)
Linus Media Group (LMG), the parent company of YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips, has found itself on the receiving end of heavy criticism regarding repeated factual errors in videos and toxic workplace environment. The bulk of LMG drama unfolded after Gamers Nexus, a YouTube channel focused on PC hardware, uploaded a lengthy video lambasting LMG for factual inaccuracies and questionable ethical practices.

“The difference between us and somebody like Gamers Nexus or Hardware Unboxed is we test new components, new tests every time. Every project that we do has new data”, were the exact words of one of Linus Tech Tips Labs employees that kicked off the controversy that has seen the YouTube giant halt all video production for a week. Following these comments, Gamers Nexus posted a 44-minute-long video exposé pointing out serious repeated factual errors in LTT videos. 

More importantly, GN’s report was followed by serious allegations levied against LTT by Madison Reeve, an LTT fan-turned-employee, who left the company after allegedly enduring toxicity in the workplace and harassment.

Linus Media Group, the parent company of LTT, has since temporarily stopped all video production and has committed to fixing internal process issues.

Gamers Nexus’ report

As mentioned above, the whole LTT drama began when an LTT Labs personnel claimed that LTT Labs runs new tests for every new project, unlike outlets like Gamers Nexus and Hardware Unboxed. Hardware Unboxed countered the claim by tweeting that “I've re-run more benchmarks than Linus has spent $ on testing equipment & staff”. The outlet further tweeted that “If you have to tell everyone how good your testing is, in my 20+ years of experience that generally means your testing isn't very good”.

That said, the real debacle began after Gamers Nexus uploaded a 44-minute long video detailing LTT’s numerous factual errors in reviews, unboxings, and general oversight that could be labeled as misleading.

As an example, GN showed that in LTT’s initial RTX 4090 review, the outlet mistakenly displayed the RTX 4090 to be about 300% faster than the RTX 3090 Ti in Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K with Ultra RT. Calling the oversight a “massive human error”, GN suggested the performance delta between the RTX 4090 and RTX 3090 Ti should have been about 72 to 75%. 

Although LTT did correct the mistake later, the inaccuracies didn’t stop and repeatedly popped up per GN’s analysis. For instance, GN reported that LTT’s RTX 4060 Ti review had the Intel Arc A750 outperforming the RTX 4060 Ti, on average, in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p with Ultra RT.

GN also detailed errors in LTT’s various other videos dealing with CPU coolers, CPU reviews, and Power Supply reviews.

Furthermore, GN raised ethical concerns regarding LMG/LTT’s business dealings. For instance, the outlet pointed out that even though Linus has invested north of US$200,000 in laptop maker Framework, LTT continues to cover not only Framework’s products but also competitor notebooks which represents a potential conflict of interest.

Perhaps the most egregious case of LTT’s alleged questionable ethical practices, the channel reportedly failed to properly test Billet Lab’s copper waterblock, refused to correct their mistake when pointed out, and even auctioned the product off after explicitly agreeing to send the one-of-a-kind prototype back to Billet Labs. GN heavily criticized LTT's handling of the Billet Labs situation as irresponsible with the potential to “kill someone’s life work in a heartbeat”.

Finally, GN also blasted Short Circuit’s video on the Pwnage Strombreaker mouse. Short Circuit, LMG’s YouTube channel dedicated to product unboxing and hands-on videos, called the Pwnage Stromerbreaker “not a smooth mouse” despite the company claiming that the Strombreaker has a “lower friction coefficient than even the most top gaming mouse brand”. The company cited Rtings review of the mouse as proof of how smooth the mouse really is.

As it later turned out, LMG staff had actually forgotten to take the protective plastic film off the mouse feet before shooting the Short Circuit video and in it recommending users not to buy the mouse because of their own oversight. LMG later edited the video to partially correct their mistakes.

Long story short, GN’s lengthy report ripped into LTT’s frequently erroneous testing and raised alarming ethical concerns that, for a company of LMG’s stature, are potentially disastrous, to say the least.

Linus Sebastian’s initial response

Linus responded to GN’s video in a lengthy written piece that attempted to deal with criticism raised by the channel. 

Linus started the piece by accusing Steve (Gamers Nexus) of not “going through proper journalist practices in creating this piece” as he had Linus’ contact details and could’ve asked for “valuable” context.

Linus also attempted to clarify Billet Lab’s situation by explaining that LTT didn’t technically sell the monoblock but auctioned it for charity. The media giant has also reportedly agreed to compensate Billet Labs for the prototype.

However, Linus effectively doubled down on LTT’s conclusion regarding Billet Lab’s monoblock despite admitting that their testing was inaccurate and they “could’ve re-tested it with perfect accuracy”.

Linus, now LMG’s Chief Vision Officer, also explained having notes under “some videos” because LTT values transparency and stated that there would be a much larger correction “if circumstances merited it”.

In reaction to Linus’ response, some users on the LTT subreddit called the response a “nothingburger”, deflection “onto the community”, and even a “basic ass corporate response”.

Madison Reeve’s damning accusations

As if GN’s critique wasn’t enough, Madison Reeve, a former LTT employee, unloaded scathing accusations regarding LMG’s workplace environment. 

For starters, Madison detailed the seemingly unsustainable amount of work that she was expected to do. She was also reportedly told not to complain because her job was “the fun job”.

According to Madison, the toxic work environment at LMG “brought her mental health to an all-time low”. She also alleged being “belittled” by some members of upper management and also had to hear how her work was “dogshit” and “incompetent”.

More damningly, Madison reported having been “inappropriately grabbed multiple times in the office”.

The aftermath

In the wake of GN’s scathing exposé and Madison Reeve’s allegations, LMG has temporarily paused all video production to focus on addressing the pressing issues. 

In their latest video, LMG CEO Terren Tong admitted that the team has “a lot of work to do” and he has “asked the team to unflinchingly address both the concerns that have been raised and how to fix them”. To that end, Yvonne Ho, LMG’s CFO, has announced that the company will be working on “long-term workflow changes”. Yvonne also stated that they are going to be working on reducing the LTT upload schedule which was one of the main concerns raised by GN.

More importantly, the head of LTT Labs, Gary Key, promised to use the production halt to publish documents detailing the Labs testing standards for feedback from both the community and the wider industry. Gary also explained that a team will be sifting through all LTT videos using Labs data to ensure accuracy, make corrections, and even take the video down for replacement where needed.

Furthermore, Gary stated that the Labs team will, among other things, open-source the code of their test integrations to the community.

Additionally, other members of the LTT management also committed to resolving issues and streamlining workflows. 

Finally, Linus also made an appearance. Delivering an emotional response to the wider criticisms and some of the more personal attacks from the disgruntled community, he admitted that his decision to not re-test the Billet Labs monoblock was a mistake and the later explanation on the forums was an “unnecessary blunder”. He also went on to explain the role he will be playing in helping LTT get better.

Long story short, the recent LTT drama has undoubtedly proven to be a massive wake-up call for the media giant. Let’s hope the company takes the criticisms to heart and implements far-reaching changes to ensure error-free reporting in the future.

Linus' initial response to GN video. (Source: LTT forums/LTT subreddit)
Linus' initial response to GN video. (Source: LTT forums/LTT subreddit)
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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 08 > Linus Tech Tips temporarily halts all production after allegations of frequent factual inaccuracies in videos and toxic work culture
Fawad Murtaza, 2023-08-20 (Update: 2023-08-20)