Soros slams Facebook and Google at Davos: Regulate ‘near monopolies’ to preserve ‘fair and open access’

Conservatives are not likely to agree with George Soros on anything, but the billionaire’s attack on Google and Facebook might have given them something to chew on.

While the liberal media will applaud the 87-year-old billionaire investor’s seething attack on President Trump in a speech Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Soros also notably slammed social media and tech giants as “near-monopoly distributors,” calling them a “menace” and criticizing “the rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant IT platform companies,” according to BuzzFeed.

“They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access,” he said.

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Soros compared the social media and tech platforms to gambling companies and denounced the “addiction” they form as “harmful,” especially to the young.

“They deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “This can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents.”


He warned that some of the companies could enter into “unholy marriages” with regimes in Russia and China, creating a “web of totalitarian control” that would be disastrous.

“There could be an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich IT monopolies that would bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance,” Soros said. “This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined.”

According to Bloomberg:

Soros Fund Management, his family office, owned some shares of Facebook and Google parent Alphabet Inc. as of Sept. 30. George Soros isn’t involved in the day-to-day management of that organization.

As the industry changes, a new business model at social media companies is emerging based not only on advertising revenue but on selling products to users, Soros said. The money manager warned that they exploit the data they control, bundle services and use “discriminatory pricing,” which enhances their profitability but undermines “the efficiency of the market economy,” he said.

A representative from Facebook had no comment on the remarks. A Google representative didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

And with mounting public backlash, Facebook, Google and other tech companies may see their monopolies soon broken, as Soros noted European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager “will be their nemesis.”

“Vestager said in an interview earlier this month that allowing advertisers to tailor political content to personal tastes on social media such as Facebook is a danger to democracy, according to interview in Vienna’s Der Standard newspaper,” Bloomberg reported.

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Soros believes the “network effect” leading Facebook and others to have their dominating hold is “unsustainable,” as he warned that Facebook will “run out of people to convert in less than three years.”

His scathing speech may find many, even in conservative circles, agreeing – at least on this issue.

“Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered,” Soros said.

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