Facebook and Google have become “obstacles to innovation” and are a “menace” to society, said billionaire investor George Soros in Davos on Thursday. The days of the technology giants are “numbered”, Soros said at the World Economic Forum.
The philanthropist said that as Facebook and Google grew into “ever more powerful monopolies”, they began to hinder innovation, and “they have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware”.
Social media companies exploit the social environment just as “mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment”, Soros said. “Social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it,” he said. “This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.”
The billionaire investor said these technology giants are not mere distributors of information as they claim to be. “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,” said Soros.
He predicted that governments would start to regulate the sector more heavily soon: “Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered.”
He also described Russia under President Vladimir Putin as a “mafia state” and called United States President Donald Trump a “danger to the world”. “But I regard it [the Trump administration] as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020, or even sooner.”