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.
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".
"I consider the Trump administration a danger to the world,” Soros said. "Mankind’s ability to harness the forces of nature, both for constructive and destructive purposes, continues to grow while our ability to govern ourselves properly fluctuates, and is now at a low ebb."