Another billionaire has some harsh words for Facebook.
Speaking at a dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, George Soros delivered a scathing speech in which he said Facebook and Google were a “menace” to society and called for increased government regulation of both companies.
“The internet monopolies have neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions. That turns them into a menace and it falls to the regulatory authorities to protect society against them,” Soros said, according to a transcript published on his website.
Criticizing Facebook and Google as exploitative monopolies, the billionaire compared the companies to the gambling industry.
“They deliberately engineer addiction …”
“Social media companies deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes. They deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide.”
“There is a similarity between internet platforms and gambling companies. Casinos have developed techniques to hook gamblers to the point where they gamble away all their money, even money they don’t have.”
Soros is the latest business leader to speak out against Facebook and call for more regulation of social media companies. His remarks come just a couple days after Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff compared Facebook’s addictive qualities to cigarettes and called for more regulation.
Though both Soros and Benioff are known for their strong opinions and political activism, their words come at a particularly sensitive time for the internet giants, which are grappling with a very public backlash in the wake of the 2016 U.S presidential election. Both Facebook and Google, along with Twitter, have faced tough questions from members of Congress surrounding their role in the election.
“The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies,” he said.
Soros then warned, “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. This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined.”
You can read a transcript of Soros’ full remarks at Davos here.