Linus Media Group is in the spotlight in the Tech community at the moment. The reason? Gamers Nexus released a scathing video calling them out with accuracy and ethics problems.
There’s a couple of main issues being called out.
First, Steve calls out the accuracy issues in LMG’s reportings. There’s clear examples where data being presented is just flat out wrong. Recent GPU reviews have been specifically called out showing some suspicious information and metrics that maybe should have been rechecked and verified. LMG has a massive investment in a whole testing lab with the aim to improve their testing and report generation, so it’s definitely super crazy that this stuff is getting to production video.
There’s very little content on LMG channels that is unscripted. So there’s accuracy issues making it into scripts, which are then read on camera and posted. Linus has noted there are script reviews, which he participates in. There’s also content reviews, editing reviews, etc. So for a scripted video to contain an error, it has to get past many review steps.
There are known and documented videos where errors get caught in editing. Instead of going back and fixing the video content, they add a visible tag on screen to correct the wrong information. If you’re just listening, you don’t get this corrected information.
But there’s also content that makes it to the channel and gets millions of views before there’s a correction. LMG being a suite of large channels, they have access to Youtube production tools that allow them to make video corrections without losing the metrics on the video, by putting a correction up in place. The problem with this is subscribers don’t get updated when the video is updated, and assume it’s the same video already watched, and never get the correction.
And of course, the accuracy problems spilled into a specific review that turned into a giant mess. LMG reviewed a prototype product from Billet Labs by using it improperly and bumbling the whole thing. These are supposed to be professional reviewers, with professional standards in reviewing and using the products. But they put the product in a situation it wasn’t designed for and declared it a bad product based on that.
And Linus doubled down later on the WAN Show when called out on this.
But this turned into a much bigger issue that could have landed LMG is legal hot water. LMG, effectively, stole the prototype and a graphics card from Billet Labs. And didn’t make any attempts to correct it until AFTER the Gamers Nexus video was posted.
What happened is after promising to send back the hardware, as requested, multiple times, LMG auctioned off the water block to the highest bidder, potentially a competitor. Linus believes he’s doing right by paying for replacement of the prototype, but man, the damage goes way beyond parts and materials.
Edit: In the video, it’s clear that Billet Labs intended LMG to keep the water block to use in future projects as a form of shared promotion. There was an implicit agreement. When LMG released a scathing review, Billet Labs wanted to exit that implicity agreement and requested the water block back, and LMG agreed to send it back. While Billet Labs may not have much a legal leg to stand on in terms of theft, LMG is still in the wrong in selling it to the highest bidder after promising, in writing, multiple times, that they would be returning it. Yes, email is considered in writing, as a paper trail.
As noted multiple times by Linus himself, and people who work at LMG, it’s a high pressure work environment with expectations of rapid turnaround of tons of videos per week. Rushing causes mistakes to happen, and for people to miss them.
But it’s a deeper problem than this: When a mistake is found, correction is either inadequate or thought too unimportant to risk missing a release deadline. So the problems get released with, at best, a note on screen, or at worst, just letting it go out.
Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be actual care about the companies they’re working with and the audience they’re serving content to. While I had already considered LMG to be a parody of what it strived to be, that’s my failure in understanding people actually look to this content for serious information. Allowing faulty content to go out makes your employees look bad, and disrespects your audience.
If you’ve seen Linus respond to criticism in the past, then you knew what to expect. And he did exactly as expected.
Linus posted a lengthy response to the whole situation on their own forums . It’s a mess. It’s filled with deflection, gaslighting, blaming, etc, but not really any taking responsibility.
I wanted to give LMG a chance to redeem itself. Maybe being called out by a public figure in a public way will bring change. But this resposne was classic Linus that indicated he knew his core audience would find this response acceptable and make no plans to change anything.
Steve added a segment to the Gamers Nexus news posting addressing this and expressing his disappointment. And it is disappointing. But not unexpected.
This was the point that I unsubscribed from all LMG channels except the main LTT channel. I figured this would all go into the WAN Show at the end of the week and this was going to be the final chance I give LMG. Does Linus finally figure out that, yes, they fucked up, how they fucked up, and how to fix it? Or does he continue to be oblivious and pushes his own self defense in all of this?
As with any Youtube or social media drama, an apology video inevitably shows up. And LMG released one , starring their new CEO, Terren Tong, and featuring various members of leadership, including Linus himself, bearing the title of Chief Vision Officer (because he can’t remove himself from trying to run the company he owns).
The core of the video is a statement that their content is going on pause for a week or so in order to course correct. Which is probably a good step forward. Seeing the new CEO get involved is also good.
But this is a produced and scripted video. And it has various problems. And the fact that it’s VERY CLEARLY produced and scripted makes the various problems even worse.
Linus, as noted, makes an appearnace. And this is to the detriment of the overall message. The reason is he still whines and lightly gaslights about the backlash. The script calls for him to acknowledge that he’s whining also. Which…what the fuck, guys. It’s scripted. You’re addressing allegations that question trust in your content. And you let that get through. Honestly, what I got out of this is he knows he fucked up, but he doesn’t know how or why. He’s still wearing blinders. He feels attacked and still wants to lash out. He feels like he’s the one being wronged and is being forced into this.
So long as Linus can’t see the forrest for the trees, he should probably be staying in the background for a bit. Let the CEO do his job. Stop trying to run the company. You stepped down, man.
The video was clearly rushed out. It shows that they followed their normal bad practices to produce, script, edit, etc, this video. And that, in and of itself, is a problem. It indicates they made no attempt to maybe do it right to show they recognize the problem and know how to fix it.
To really drive home how hollow this video rang to me, it was sponsored. And it was done in a rather shitty way. They joked about sponsorship when passing on to Yvonne earlier in the video. So when it happened again at the end, I guess it was to pass the assumption that it’s not actually sponsored because “hah hah we did the joke again” but then she went on to mention dbrand. The way she mentioned them, again, pushes the idea it wasn’t sponsored by them, but it’s what’s not said that reveals all. Yeah, maybe dbrand offered to sponsor an apology video because that’s apparently the professional relationship they have with each other, but it appears LMG didn’t say no and stuck them in anyway.
Edit: There were multiple points of monetization that appeared in this video.
- Mention of the LTT store
- Mention of a new and upcoming product
- Mention of dbrand as sponsor
- Monetization enabled for the video until community backlash
- Video details including links to monetization (products, store, etc)
Edit: There’s indications that the dbrand mention is being live edited out. I’m still seeing it, but apparently this processing can take some time. And I’ll just call back to why live editing stuff like this is bad: I will never see anything in my subscriptions, notifications, etc, that this edit is occurring. So public commentary about this will look weird after the edit goes live.
I’m not entirely sure they learned from this. Part of me wonders if they’re taking the opportunity to have some much needed downtime from production to deal with various backend stuff that’s already been needing addressed anyway, that production kinda made difficult. The apology video didn’t sell me that they learned from this whole thing, and I’m not sure they’re really going to change.
It wouldn’t surprise me if they return to the same old high pressure release schedule, but with more extensive checklists.
LMG has to re-earn my trust. And I’m sure I’m not the only one, here. I don’t feel like the apology video was truly sincere. It wasn’t playing the ukelele bad. But they’re going to have to prove their value to me in order to regain my subscriptions.
I’m honestly hoping the pause on production doesn’t include the WAN Show this Friday. I hope they go ahead and do that. It doesn’t have to be 4 hours of talking about this. They can do their normal thing. But with the WAN Show being unscripted discussion, this is the opportunity for Linus to either redeem himself and prove he gets it, or to fail to pull his foot out of his mouth and prove this ain’t changing.
The unfortunate reality is the audience isn’t the only victim in this. LMG employees are likely to suffer any losses the channels face. In deciding to reduce or eliminate the revenue going from my Youtube Premium subscription to their channels, I recognize this. My contribution is small, but en masse unsubscribe is a big deal. But understand, any impact to employees is not the fault of the audience. Leadership is who has to answer to this one.
LMG apparently has some high quality products that they designed themselves. The backpack has issues, sure. And that’s not even getting into the “Trust Me Bro” warranty initially put on it.
Should you boycott their merch store in all of this? That’s up to you. People like their screwdriver and the backpack. They apparently focus on delivering high quality. If I recall correctly, this is a separate part of the conglomerate from LMG, called Creator Warehouse.
Personally, I haven’t purchased from them. I’ve developed a rule about purchasing content creator merch that mostly comes from a time when creators doing shady stuff and getting into hot water meant I no longer wanted to support them, and didn’t want to have their merch anymore. As someone looking to have less stuff overall, I don’t want to be saddled with stuff I might not want to have anymore over stuff like this.
All Creator Warehouse stuff is content creator branded, mostly LMG related (do they make stuff for other creators?). So my motivation to not buy is separate from the current controversy. Were Creator Warehouse a more general product design and sales company, that might be a different story for me. I can get equally good, or better, tools and backpacks elsewhere, often cheaper.