Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are 'garbage,' says Linux founder Torvalds

Tech pioneer Linus Torvalds says the way social media works today encourages bad behavior. "It's a disease."

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
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Count another person who isn't "liking" social media these days.

Linus Torvalds, the Finnish-born creator of the free Linux software that competes against Apple's MacOS and Microsoft's Windows to power computers, didn't mince words when discussing Facebook , Twitter and Instagram . And in an interview this week with Linux Journal, he suggested it's one of the biggest issues the tech industry is facing today.

Linux Developer Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds

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"I absolutely detest modern 'social media' -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It's a disease. It seems to encourage bad behavior," he said in response to a question about the one thing he'd fix in tech today. "The whole 'liking' and 'sharing' model is just garbage. There is no effort and no quality control. In fact, it's all geared to the reverse of quality control, with lowest common denominator targets, and click-bait and things designed to generate an emotional response, often one of moral outrage."

Torvalds, who first released Linux in 1994, is known within the tech community for being rather rude. But he isn't the only one unhappy with social media. 

Surveys indicate that people's opinions about social media have markedly dropped in the past several years, driven in part by issues of harassment, bad behavior and terrorism that have overshadowed everything else Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are used for.

A root cause, Torvalds said, is anonymity.

"When you don't even put your real name on your garbage (or the garbage you share or like), it really doesn't help." Instead, he said, people shouldn't be able to share or like things without proving their identity first.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.