‘Anonymity is overrated’ according to Linux’s founder

Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds thinks ‘anonymity is overrated’ and only important for true whistle-blowers.

The always opinionated and notoriously blunt creator of the Linux kernel made the claim during an interview with the Linux Journal when asked if there was “one thing he’d fix” in the world of networking published on Tuesday.

“I’m actually one of those people who thinks that anonymity is overrated. Some people confuse privacy and anonymity and think they go hand in hand, and that protecting privacy means that you need to protect anonymity,” he said.

“I think that’s wrong. Anonymity is important if you’re a whistle-blower, but if you cannot prove your identity, your crazy rant on some social-media platform shouldn’t be visible, and you shouldn’t be able to share it or like it.”

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The comments came after the interviewer asked Torvalds if there was “one thing” he’d like to fix in the world of networking and are an extension of his dislike for social media’s sharing model.

“I absolutely detest modern “social media”—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It’s a disease. It seems to encourage bad behavior,” he said.

“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 isn’t alone in his belief. Public opinion has been turning against Facebook and its privacy model since it was revealed user data was being used by ne’er-do-wells and less than scrupulous companies, like Cambridge Analytica, to attempt to control and change public opinion.

The company has since run a number of campaigns to try and help win back public trust. These have included ongoing efforts to combat fake news spreading on the platform and be more transparent how its sharing and discovery algorithms work. Most recently the company released details about its efforts to stop a fake news campaign targeting the EU elections.

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Facebook and Twitter aren’t the first companies to draw Torvalds’ scorn. The Linux big-wig has a track record for being very outspoken. He gave a particularly sweary tirade against Nvidia over its lack of Linux support in 2012.

He later took time away as Linux head of development following complaints from contributors about his combative style.

The Linux kernel is a core part of numerous big name operating systems and software packages including Google Android. It’s open source so users can download, tweak and use it however they like.

Despite his strong wording you may want to avoid taking Torvalds’ comments too seriously. In the same interview he criticised Linux fans and the media for taking him too seriously.

Agree with Torvalds on social media and anonymity? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews