Billionaire investor George Soros gave a scathing criticism of technology giants such as Facebook and Google, calling them monopolies that threaten democracy, BBC News reports.
Speaking at his annual dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, Soros warned that social media platforms were “obstacles to innovation” and raised concerns about their impact on society.
“Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment,” The Guardian newspaper quoted the 87-year-old financier as saying.
“This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.”
Soros said major internet companies have made “unprecedented and transformative” impact on society.
“The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies,” he said, citing the role they played in the election of US President Donald Trump.
But Soros said he believed Trump would be gone by 2020 “or sooner”. “I expect a Democratic landslide in 2018,” he added.
He also said the days of the internet giants are numbered because tax policy and regulation will soon catch up with them.
During his speech, Soros repeatedly praised EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has become well known for meting out huge fines against US tech giants, including Google, Amazon and Apple, for antitrust practices.
Soros said the European Union, which has no internet giants of its own, was best placed to “protect society against them” since US regulators were too weak, the BBC said.
“Internet monopolies have neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions,” he said.
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