Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Not Even Orwell or Huxley Could Have Imagined 'Totalitarian' Threat Posed by Facebook and Google, Warns Soros

Billionaire investor says there is serious threat of tech giants and authoritarian states teaming up to "bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance."

Jake Johnson

"The power to shape people's attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies," Soros said. (Photo: Wikimotive)

In addition to warning that U.S. President Donald Trump represents an immense "danger" to civilization, billionaire George Soros used the spotlight of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday to urge the international community to take seriously the threats posed by Facebook and Google, which he said could ultimately spawn "a web of totalitarian control" if they are not reined in.

"They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations."
—George Soros

Particularly alarming, Soros said, is the prospect of Facebook and Google—which he scathingly deemed a "menace" to society—teaming up with "authoritarian states" to "bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance."

Such "unholy marriages" could result in a strain of authoritarianism "the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined," the billionaire investor cautioned.

Soros went on to compare the tech giants' impact on the internet—and social media in particular—to the effects of fossil fuel giants on the environment.

"Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment," Soros said, warning that the days of internet monopolies like Facebook and Google "are numbered."

"They claim they are merely distributing information," Soros added of the tech giants that are frequently denounced by critics of corporate power for abusing their market dominance. "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."

If tech companies are permitted to retain overwhelming control over information, "far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy" could result, Soros concluded.

"The power to shape people's attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies," Soros said. "It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called 'the freedom of mind.' There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will have difficulty in regaining it."

Below is a short clip of Soros's speech. Read his full remarks here.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Biggest Win for Tax Fairness' in Decades: Progressives Cheer Reforms in IRA, Demand More

"While this bill establishes desperately needed changes to our tax laws and IRS funding, it is still a far cry from the systemic changes that we need in our society to rectify the hold the rich still have on every level of our economy."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Care Can't Wait': IRA a Good Start, Progressives Say, But More Is Needed

"Americans deserve a full loaf of bread," said health justice advocate Ady Barkan.

Kenny Stancil ·


'I'm Back': Fetterman Returns to Campaign Trail Following May Stroke

"I'm not only grateful to be alive, but also for the campaign we're building together," said the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat.

Kenny Stancil ·


Because Climate Science 'Does Not Grade on a Curve,' Experts Says IRA Not Enough

"There is an urgent need for much more aggressive and far-reaching measures to prevent climate chaos," said the head of one progressive consumer advocacy group.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Game-Changer and Reason for Hope': House Passes Inflation Reduction Act

"We've got more to do," Rep. Pramila Jayapal said on the House floor. "But today, let's celebrate this massive investment for the people."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo