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The days of Facebook and Google are numbered.
At least that’s what the billionaire of Hungarian origin George Soros believes, who foresaw the fall of the pound in 1992 and earned the nickname of “the man who caused the bankruptcy of the Bank of England.”
During a dinner with journalists at the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland, the tycoon lashed out against the power of the US technology companies, which he accused of putting “obstacles to innovation” and of being a “threat to democracy”.
“As Facebook and Google have become increasingly powerful monopolies, they have become obstacles to innovation and have caused a variety of problems that we are only now beginning to realize, ” Soros said.
The investor, nationalized American, considered that this was “particularly disastrous”, since social networks and large Internet companies influence how people think and behave, without users even realize.
” This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy , particularly on the integrity of elections,” he said, according to a transcript of his speech.
Soros said that these companies can be “harmful”, since they “deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial ends”, which creates “a deliberate addiction” to the services they provide.
He also warned of what he described as an “even more alarming perspective”: the possibility that these companies, which hold personal data of millions of people, offer this information to state-sponsored surveillance services.
“This can result in a network of totalitarian control as neither Aldous Huxley or George Orwell (two writers who reflected in their novels the effects of a futuristic totalitarian society) could have imagined,” he added.
However, he also predicted that the days of these companies were counted as a result of tax policies and regulations.
” Davos is a good place to announce that your days are numbered, ” he said.
Neither of the two technology companies immediately responded to a request for comment made by the BBC.
Trump in the sights
At the beginning of his speech, the investor, Holocaust survivor, confessed that he had a pessimistic view of the current historical moment, which he considers “quite painful”.
“Open societies are in crisis and there are increasing forms of dictatorships and mafia states, exemplified by Putin’s Russia,” he said.
The current tenant of the White House did not escape the criticism of Soros either.
He said that the Donald Trump government is a “danger to the world” and added that he believed that the president, whom he described as “aspiring dictator,” might not last until the end of his term.
Soros, a great supporter of economic liberalism, became known in the world of politics by supporting anti-communist movements in the former Soviet republics.
He is the president of Soros Fund Management and founder of Quantum Fund, and is considered one of the richest men in the world, according to estimates by Forbes magazine.