Billionaire investor George Soros’ annual state of the world address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has become a staple of the elite-of-the-elite confab. On Thursday, he had choice words for Facebook (ticker: FB) and Google (GOOGL), referring to them as monopolistic menaces.
“As Facebook and Google have grown into more powerful monopolies, they have become obstacles to innovation, and they have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware,” according to a transcript of Soros’ speech obtained by Barron’s.
“They claim they are merely distributing information,” Soros continued. “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.”
“The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe, but in fact they are slaves to preserving their dominant position,” Soros said. “It is only a matter of time before the global dominance of the US IT monopolies is broken.”
Soros’ scorching assessment came hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May took social-media companies to task for most of society’s ills, including terrorism and child abuse. On Tuesday, Salesforce (CRM) Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff called for Facebook to be regulated like tobacco companies.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged the company’s shortcomings in unwittingly distributing misinformation, and has vowed to spend more time and money to address the problem.
Barrons, January 25, 2018.