George Soros, the right’s favorite boogeyman, may become big tech’s newest nightmare. Back in January, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the billionaire hedge fund manager denounced internet giants like Google and Facebook as a “menace” who “exploit the social environment.” He added that their “days are numbered” and he apparently meant it. According to Axios, Soros is putting his money where his mouth is: His influential (and well-funded) Open Society Institute is “examining new ways” to tackle the growing power of tech giants.
The news comes a few days after Soros wrote a fiery op-ed saying that “not only is the survival of open society in question; the survival of our entire civilization is at stake.” He put the blame squarely on Facebook and Google, calling them “obstacles to innovation” that have caused “a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware.” He also urged EU regulators to do something about it. (Of course, Soros’s fund owned several thousand shares of Facebook as of November.)
This isn’t entirely new territory for Soros, though. According to Axios, back in 2016, his philanthropic organization gave Data & Society $250,000 for “reimagining pathways for algorithmic accountability of platforms and organizations that produce and distribute content, such as search and recommendation engines and social media.” In short, Soros was into regulating Facebook and Google before it was cool.