Billionaire philanthropist and leading donor to liberal causes George Soros predicted Thursday that regulation and taxation soon will dethrone Facebook and Google, describing the tech industry’s major players as powerful monopolies that harm individuals, market innovation and democracy.
In a wide-ranging, scathing speech delivered at a dinner event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Soros applauded the European Union’s heightened enforcement aimed at Web giants. He also called for greater regulation of the tech companies, seizing on a growing backlash against Silicon Valley.
“Facebook and Google have grown into ever 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,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech.
Google declined to comment. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Soros made the remarks as officials in Washington, D.C., and industry critics continued to ramp up their scrutiny of the tech sector. That pressure has been directed at a broad array of issues, perhaps most prominently online advertising and the spread of disinformation on popular social media platforms.
In response, Facebook and Google have said they are open to greater government oversight in their ad operations. But Facebook has gone even further in recent weeks, publicly grappling with its role in global society.
Last week Facebook even admitted in a blog post that social media can sometimes harm democracy.