Friday, January 26, 2018

"Davos 2018: George Soros blasts social media tech giants, accusing them of 'deliberately engineering addiction', and denounces bitcoin" (FB; GOOG)

He also said something about Donald Trump being the spawn of Satan but we haven't figured out how to make any money off that.

First up, City AM:
Hedge fund veteran George Soros launched an attack on social media giants such as Facebook and Google tonight, saying they were a "menace" and accusing them of "deliberately engineering addiction" which is particularly harmful to adolescents.

Soros compared the platforms to gambling businesses, saying they may be permanently damaging to human attention, while speaking at a World Economic Forum dinner in Davos.
Read more: George Soros predicts Donald Trump will fail as US President - and says global markets will see a downturn
He added that some tech companies may fall into “unholy marriages” with regimes which oppose Western ideals, which could in turn give them "totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined".

"They claim they are merely distributing information," Soros said. "But the fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities, and should subject them to more stringent regulations aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access."
The regulation which Soros called for would eventually be the giants' undoing, he added. He said the US IT companies' "days are numbered", as their monopoly would eventually be cracked by tighter rules and tax regimes.

Soros either did not hear, or chose to ignore, a heckler at the back of the room who questioned why the investor himself has ploughed money into tech giants in the past. His hedge fund still owns millions of dollars' worth of shares in both Facebook and Google parent Alphabet.

On the subject of bitcoin, Soros denounced the cryptocurrency as "a speculation based on a misunderstanding" rather than an actual currency. He claimed its price will be "propped up by dictators" who will use it to "build their nest eggs".

A nail in Trump's coffin?
Soros, who been a core donor to the Democrats, also laid in to the Republican President Trump, calling him a "temporary phenomenon" who will be gone by 2020.

He said that the businessman-turned-politician wanted to create a "mafia state", but was being barred by the US's constitution and "vibrant civil society"....

Yahoo Finance goes with "George Soros says Facebook and Google's 'days are numbered'":
Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros slammed Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL), two companies he’s invested in recently, noting that “the rise and monopolistic behavior” of tech platform companies has become a “global problem.”

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Soros, called out Facebook and Google for “exploiting” social environments and causing “a variety of problems.” He even suggested that the companies could be tempted to “compromise themselves” to gain access to markets such as Russia and China.

“The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe, but in fact they are slaves to preserving their dominant position. It is only a matter of time before the global dominance of the US IT monopolies is broken, Soros said. “Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered. Regulation and taxation will be their undoing, and EU Competition Commissioner Vestager will be their nemesis.”

Soros, 87, believes one of the critical problems these networks cause is their ability to influence how people think and behave, often without them even being aware of it. “This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections,” he added.

Unsustainable growth
Soros warned that at its current rate, Facebook will run out of new users to join its platform, even as it continues to penetrate globally.

“The distinguishing feature of internet platform companies is that they are networks and they enjoy rising marginal returns; that accounts for their phenomenal growth. The network effect is truly unprecedented and transformative, but it is also unsustainable. It took Facebook eight and a half years to reach a billion users and half that time to reach the second billion. At this rate, Facebook will run out of people to convert in less than 3 years.”....MORE