Google and Facebook are "a menace" and "slaves" to preserving their leading positions in the industry whose dominance will eventually be "broken," business mogul George Soros said on the stage of the 2018 edition of the World Economic Forum held this week in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The nature of Internet monopolies doesn't make them inclined to work for the good of the society and any expectations that they'll do so regardless are naive, the 87-year-old suggested. Mr. Soros called for strict regulation of digital giants and harshly criticized their insistence to only describe themselves as content distributors. He argued that their dominant status in the industry "makes them public utilities" that warrant regulation. A similar sentiment has reportedly circulated among U.S. President Trump's closest circle last year.
Mr. Soros also pointed out that nothing is currently stopping Google and Facebook from striking deals with authoritarian regimes around the world in a bid to penetrate new markets while providing extensive surveillance networks to such foreign governments in exchange for being allowed to do so. The investor specifically referenced visions of (digital) dystopias once detailed by Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, saying that not even that pessimistic duo "could have imagined" the extent of what Google and Facebook are capable of. The entrepreneur also accused the two companies of intentionally engineering "addiction" and manipulating people so as to exploit their attention for profit.
Mr. Soros's criticism is significant not just because it comes from the mouth of one of the most influential businessmen in the world but because his liberal and progressive political views generally align to those often repeated by the Silicon Valley. His comments were hence suggesting concerns about social networks and Internet juggernauts should be viewed as bipartisan issues. The famous investor isn't the only multi-billionaire who recently publicly criticized Google and Facebook, with similar sentiments recently being expressed by Rupert Murdoch, a media magnate whose political views are largely opposite to those held by Mr. Soros. Earlier this week, the founder of 21st Century Fox and News Corp said the Internet giants should pay the media for their content as they're using it to significantly ennoble their own services while simultaneously eating into the industry's advertising revenues which have been eroding for over a decade now. Google and Facebook are still under significant pressure from Washington over the role their services played in foreign attempts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election in the U.S.