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George Soros: Facebook and Google are a menace to society (theguardian.com)
380 points by lumberjack 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 251 comments



I agreed with him until his conclusion:

"[Google and Facebook] claim that they are merely distributing information, but the fact that they are near monopoly distributors make them in to public utilities - and should subject them to more stringent regulations aimed at preserving competition, innovation and fair and open universal access."

George Soros always seems to be selling something, so hearing the billionaire cry foul gives me pause.

I don't disagree with the stated ambition – "preserved competition, innovation and fair and open universal access", but I'm hesitant to join the rallying cry for heavy handed regulation at this point. These always seem to come down on other companies that don't have the resources to manage the regulations and create an even more protectionist environment.

What are the unintended consequences of these regulations? We've all benefited from the work that Google and Facebook have open sourced (definitely pushed outside innovation forward), and many incredible businesses and entrepreneurs have found footing on the solid platforms of each.

I don't know. I imagine that if we view these companies on a longer time frame, we'll see that they end up folding in on themselves like every other company – just maybe a generation or two later.


> What are the unintended consequences of these regulations?

I don’t know about the unintended consequences, but when George Soros comes out in public he is always pushing an agenda. So perhaps the question should be, what are the intended consequences?

Does Soros want governments to regulate these companies for economic reasons, or is it a power grab for control of the flow of information?

These companies have painted a huge target on their back by amassing so much data. There are many powerful organizations that would like access to that data.


> There are many powerful organizations that would like access to that data.

It's not about access to the data, but rather about controlling the flow of information. The rise of social media and Google represents a shift of power away from traditional media (which Soros and his allies have a relatively higher degree of influence over) and to .. well, something else (I'm going going to pretend it's "the people", and it's not "the russians", either).


The power has already been grabbed by Google and Facebook. The only question is whether the public will have some oversight or whether it will allow so much power (probably much more than that held by the Robber Barons of the infamous Gilded Age) to be held by corporations.


I feel like the solution doesn't necessarily need to involve new regulations. Maybe just the application of existing ones to those companies would be enough? Like his mention of "public utilities" - what would happen, if search engines / social media started getting classified as such?


Almost every public utility I've dealt with is completely dysfunctional, so I'm not sure I'd advocate that unless my real aim was to destory them (which it seems to be for some).

It's never clear to me what people even mean by this - it seems like a fashionable phrase to throw around. So I second your question - what practically speaking would happen under this scenario? I'd prefer to hear the people advocating it be explicit about what they want and why.


Completely dysfunctional... Does your power regularly go out? Is your water poisoning you?

If you live in a major city in the US or Europe, your utilities almost certainly "just work," and this narrative is pure ideological bullshit based in fantasy.

Have you ever lived anywhere where utilities are not state-regulated? Are you comparing them to that experience?

You don't have to--you can just compare something that should be a utility (Comcast) with something that is (your power company). Hey, look! Turns out those government regulations help.


I'll be honest here: I don't know. I've been thinking for some time now whether Facebook and Google should be "socialized", and I just can't see that working. In fact, I only mentioned utilities in hope someone who has an idea how it could work would share it. And the main question I wanted to ask is if we really need new regulations for whatever-we-want-to-do with Google & Facebook, or can we just reuse the old ones, and skip the part when we give governments more power?

FWIW, in my perfect imaginary world, Google Search would work as it had worked few years ago (back when it had less ads), while social networks like Facebook would be forced to interoperate through some shared protocols. But then again, my vision of the perfect Internet involves significantly reducing control the publishing parties have - that is, those parties should publish content and services, not dictate the way I should consume said content and services. I should be perfectly free to render any site any way I like, including not rendering it at all, but navigating through my own (or third party) software.


But regulations strike both ways. Your consumption patterns might not mirror the mandated consumption patterns set forth by the government. For instance, this is what folks against socialized medicine advocate - your freedoms as an individual are reduced.

I think this strikes at the heart of my contempt for heavy handed approach to regulation.

I kinda want to take that back and say we shouldn’t be having this conversation at all. This narrative that everything needs to be regulated and the Internet is a something makes me more worried that we’ll be required to do things as much as we’ll be protected in doing other things.

E.g. a relationship between the government and Facebook in any fashion pushes us closer to allowing Facebook as some form of shared trust - perhaps making it an eligible Voting ID. We get to a point where it becomes more hassle than it’s worth, benefiting the Gov and FB, but not really benefiting the end user.

Maybe that’s the real Net-Neutrality: keeping a hands-off relationship between how I consume information and the regulation of such.

Yes, I feel like the regulatory movement is underway, and the narrative is beginning to brew. And, I think we’re having someone else’s conversation.


Something as simple as mandating that all of a user's activity (and with all I mean including e.g. click tracking on FB or external sites) and accessible information (i.e. posts the user can view) can be exported in real time in a machine readable format would basically do the trick.

It'd allow you to basically build your own Facebook app, migrate meaningfully to another service and build other services that meaningfully integrate with Facebook... and effectively turn FB/Twitter into public utilies and enable real competition to Google to appear by allowing users to share key data such as which result they clicked on in response to which query.


Well, I'm not into forcing things on others, so I can't agree with your perfect world. However, I'm more interested in what "socialized" actually means: it seems like just another phrase like "treated as public utility" that doesn't mean much to me on its own. Is this about the government taking control of the company?


If Facebook and Google were to be public utilities then that would be a scary proposition. It would be some black mirror and sesame credit cross over. The social data mined from what you do would determine how good/obedient of a citizen/consumer you are and hence how well the regime treats you.

I actually prefer they not be regulated as public utilities because at least this way you have some measure of opting out of having information collected about you.


This is already happening (employers monitoring online activity). The only question is whether this activity will be subject to public oversight or not.


Especially if This Time(tm) we manage to get an open alternative running well enough for public use. I know I'm definitely going to look into ActivityPub for my social circle, and DDG is more and more credible. There's yet hope I guess!


DDG works only because Google does if everyone shifts from Google and it’s search results tank because it loses all of the data associated with what and how people search so will DDG.


What do you mean? DDG uses the Bing api for its results, not Google.


I thought DDG uses multiple search engines including google.


If there were reforms to copyright law, it would be easier for a Google competitor to enter the market.


When I was at Google, we were a de facto monopoly on search so we were subject to more stringent regulation. I do believe we were effectively treated as a monopoly on search.

(Yes, this does have consequences down to the individual developer level)


What monopoly regulation would apply to a dominant market position delivering value at no cost to the user, for a product who’s competitors are but a click away?

I thought US monopoly laws were more about dealing with unfair profiteering off customers?

Or do I not know that Google’s advertising rates are regulated by monopoly laws?


> I thought US monopoly laws were more about dealing with unfair profiteering off customers?

This finally seems to be starting to shift.

> What monopoly regulation would apply to a dominant market position delivering value at no cost to the user

Look at what is happening to Google in the EU.


the big thing that falls under monopoly regulations is google favoring ads for their products over competitors. showing google shopping results over amazon ones, for example.


>hearing the billionaire cry foul gives me pause.

I guess from Soros point of view the underlying issue is that the social media amplify outrage driving up lobbying costs.


From the speech transcript [ https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16237684 ]:

“Social media companies deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes. They deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide. This can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents. There is a similarity between internet platforms and gambling companies.”

Good points to raise, but as a former Googler, I’m a bit surprised how he does not distinguish between Google and FB at all. Are we all Google addicted then? Remember Google’s main business, Search, is still about getting you away from Google as quick as possible.


Google's main business is advertising, search is just one of the vehicles to deliver the ads. Google wants you to see, watch and click as many ads as possible. The top search results are all ads and look very similar - more than ever - to real search results. And than you have Youtube, a gorefest of ads and unfiltered comments, with creators begging for likes and subs.


My long trail search never have ads. For only very common words they show advertise. How else they going to afford this free facility ?


Google's Youtube is incredibly pernicious. Every time you visit to watch a specific video, they bombard you with the videos that they've decided are the most likely to distract you. They even have autoplay on by default so you can get sucked in to a video you didn't decide to watch before you realize it.


Google’s main business, Search, is still about getting you away from Google as quick as possible.

It used to be. But that was a while ago. Most of the Google search results today for popular topics lead to Google properties or are ads. As I've pointed out for years, when search works right, the search engine doesn't make any money. Page and Brin made that point in the original Google paper.


> Most of the Google search results today for popular topics lead to Google properties or are ads

This does not match my experience. Can you give some examples? "are ads" - do you mean AdWords, or websites in the search results that are actually ads?

As a single data point, I just did a Google search for [music subscription services]. First result (for me) is Wikipedia, followed by several comparisons, Spotify on 5th place, and Google Music not ranking in the top 10. Looks good to me.


What I see is a list of cards that take up most of the page. Each card has a logo in it. First card is Spotify, second card is Google Play. When I click on a card I get a search for that brand where the first result is an ad for that brand's website.

On the original page, the only other visible links are an ad for Amazon Music, and (mostly below-the-fold) "best music streaming services" from Consumer Reports.


It depends on the query, location, and probably bunch of other things. Right now, if I do a Google search for the word "buty" (polish for "shoes"), 8 results fit on my screen, and first 4 of them are ads (explicitly labeled as such) (also, it was 4 out of 7 before I closed the "we've revised our privacy policy" dialog).


I feel a little bit like, give me a break...

Google actually has some legit products which are actually the most relevant search results for some queries.

If those are the only things you see at the top you're not really looking for anything particularly interesting.


Disagree. I search something and away all day long. If not would use something else as most would. Now it is true Google gives me what I need on Google but it is not done to try to make me stay or try to drive engagement like Facebook.

Google is trying to get you to come back soon while FB is stay and never leave.


Google's main business is ads, not Search, but even then Google still owns YouTube, Gmail and other things that are used by people every single day. On top of that they haven't been particularity neutral as far as politics are concerned and have even changed search for political reasons (fighting "fake news"). So yes, Google is definitely an influencer just like Facebook is.


I think this part strikes right at Google, since they are much more an infrastructure provider, not just a site you can avoid using:

<<Soros warned of an “even more alarming prospect” on the horizon if data-rich internet companies such as Facebook and Google paired their corporate surveillance systems with state-sponsored surveillance – a trend that’s already emerging in places such as the Philippines.

“This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined,” he said.>>


It's worth noting that Soros is likely to be predisposed to seeing the "red flags" (pun intended) of oppressive government spying and despotism having experienced first-hand during his formative teen years the Nazi occupation of Hungary and the subsequent Soviet period, initially in-country and then from afar in England. It's both a valuable paranoia, but also one that's likely to be prone to overestimate the worst-case scenario and the slipperiness of the slope, so to speak.

I'm definitely concerned by the surveillance state that's developing, but I also believe that our flag is significantly less red than both the Nazi and Soviet flags, both literally and figuratively. I think it's important that we're wary of slippages in freedoms of citizens without resorting to hyperbole and comparing the current situation to oppressive regimes which murdered so many millions of their own citizens definitely feels hyperbolic.


Human nature hasn't really changed in the last hundred years. My great grandfather was imprisoned as an enemy of the people and my father was tracked by the Securitate political police - it's not such a distant dystopia for me so I empathize with Soros.

The danger here is that we might be lulling ourselves in a complacent state "it can't happen to us", because of our values, democracy, political system, etc. while at the same time putting in place massive infrastructure ripe for totalitarian abuse.

At a moment's notice, the situation can transition radically with the monsters lurking in the shadows taking full control of an unstoppable surveillance machine, indeed of a capacity not even Orwell could imagine - now capable of autonomous decision and self enforcement for absolute compliance. The trigger could be something as banale as a military conflict - our capacity to chose freedom as opposed to complete physical security has steadily gotten worse. Once in place totalitarian rule is strongly self enforcing and very very hard to shake, it corrodes all social cohesion and institutions, turning individuals into survival or full denial mode.


>The danger here is that we might be lulling ourselves in a complacent state "it can't happen to us"

this is the perfect chance to plug one of my favorite books, sinclair lewis' "it can't happen here."

the content is predictable, but the implementation of the idea is fantastically detailed and-- in the wake of the US' current political situation-- outrageously predictive for being written decades ago.


> overestimate the worst-case scenario and the slipperiness of the slope

Timothy Snyder (historian of Eastern Europe) wrote a book about the conditions needed to happen to get murders in millions. It's called Bloodlands - Europe between Hitler and Stalin, and I highly recommend it, it's cured me of many misconceptions about Holocaust and WW2 (and I thought I know it pretty good, I'm interested in history and I'm Polish - WW2 is still a big subject here).

It doesn't only speak about Holocaust, it showcases several genocides that happened just before and during WW2 in eastern Europe, and states a thesis, that the only required condition is destruction of state institutions. Ideologies, cultures, stereotypes are secondary. Some of the most antisemitist states in WW2 had lots of Jews surviving German occupation (see France), some of the least antisemitic countries had almost all of their Jews killed (see Netherlands). It mostly depended on how Germans dealt with the institutions of state when they occupied particular country.

Even Germany started murdering on a really big scale only when it got access to lands with no law and no state institutions (because they destroyed them). And most of the murders took place not in death camps (which were BTW excluded from German law), but on-site, in otusands of villages and town, by German police/army/SS, or local guerilla fighters, bandits, marauders, paramilitary groups, just local people, or a mix of these.

As a personal note, I'm quite scared by everything that happens in Europe, and especially in Poland for last few years. There's nationalist renaissance going on, and some previously marginalized views become mainstream, the state anti-minority propaganda is just unbearable (basically ~all Muslims are terrorists, all leftist want to flood us with them because that'll somehow make us more like USSR and as we know it's the leftists' goal, but we have Catholic Church and government that will defend us). Somehow feminists and LGBT are in the conspiracy too. People believe in all that crap to various degrees, but it's mainstream. You are ridiculed if you don't.

Literal neonazis are still marginal (well, it's Poland, duh), but nationalism is fashionable suddenly, and even this week I've heard 2 old ladies in mall talking about the Muslims that want to kill us and the leftists that want them in so that Poland is communist again.

It's surreal, and it only took 3 years. And we barely have any minorities in the first place. How much easier it would be in a country where there are real problems with minorities?


Your point about collapse of state institutions seems to resonate with other historical genocides, like in Rwanda. OTOH, it seems to be accepted that during WW2, the "Final Solution" was pretty much state-sponsored and mechanistic. So I wonder whether there is more than one possible way people can turn into mass murderers?

--

Being Polish myself, I'd like to offer my own view on some of your statements, without detracting from the main point.

> all Muslims are terrorists (...) It's surreal, and it only took 3 years.

That one has been brewing for a loooong time, pretty much ever since 9/11, and we can thank Western media for that. It's a hot topic only now, because it ties into EU's immigration crisis. The immigrants involved come from Muslim countries, so people went all "oh, so you want us to welcome terrorists now?".

> Somehow feminists and LGBT are in the conspiracy too.

They kind of had it coming, though :). People are not blind to the utter craziness of the extreme fringes of feminist movements in the US (which get all the media attention); all that "social justice warriors" mess was observable through social media, and so I've noticed years ago that people locally were starting to polarize about feminism too. It's not about women rights as much the combination of viewing things through traditional (catholic) values + conflating all feminism with crazy American SJWs. But I guess, as it is today and with current governance, it all got bundled together under "anti-Polish, pro-Union-of-Socialistic-European-Republics, crazy lefties".

--

All in all, you make a solid point on just how quickly things can flip around. The change may be brewing for a long time, but when it happens, it's pretty swift.


> Some of the most antisemitist states in WW2 had lots of Jews surviving German occupation (see France)

I don't think that France would qualify as one of the most antisemitist state of WW 2. Since Dreyfus affair at the beginning of the XXth century, antisemitism was less and less prevalent. But I agree that having a unoccupied zone for most of the war and keeping most state institutions helped saving most of the Jews living in France before the war.


I think you have a skewed view of events and exaggerate a bit. You can't base your opinions based on things like anecdotal accounts of two old ladies in a shopping mall and then extrapolate and generalize. What's happening in Poland, and in Central/Eastern Europe (CEE) in general, is quite complex. People hate complexity. They like the nice, tidy narratives in the media that warring political factions spin around their own interests.

First of all, you might want to distinguish between patriotism and nationalism (understood as a chauvinist national cult). The two are quite different.

Second, the period of 1990-2008 is kind of a twilight zone of history. I remember how, following the fall of the Berlin wall, the end of history was an idea that excited people. Come 2008, history has returned and with force. The recession exposed the geopolitical seismic faults stretching and fracturing the world. Capital was found to have a nationality after all. CEE resides on a very particular geopolitical fault line in Europe with its own unique geopolitical, economic, and security concerns and challenges, often at odds with the interests of countries like Germany and Russia (again, historically the case). For many of us, this return of history is something quite new, many of us having spent most of our lives in that supposed post-historic twilight zone.

Third, it's in poor taste to conflate opposition to taking in migrants with bigotry. Sure, some people are bigoted or simply ignorant. They do exist. However, that's not what is driving the essential opposition to the taking in migrants. The migrant crisis has been an extraordinary cluster fuck of epic proportions. Also, consider that: the majority of migrants are not Syrians or people from war-torn regions; that the West (including the US, largely at fault for destabilizing the regimes that kept militant Islam in check; many of them countries with colonial pasts in those countries) failed to take in the numbers they could; the wealthy Saudis, with ties to the US, failed to take significant numbers in; the homogeneity of CEE countries post-WWII and the social problems of taking in migrants of radically different culture would cause for both parties; the on-the-ground support, financial and otherwise, of Poles in Syria; the ~1 million Ukrainians Poland took in from war-torn Ukraine while countries like Germany did not. I could continue. The point is that this is a complex issue and the media has been vicious in its suppression of many important facts.

Fourth, Western leftists have no qualms trying to strong arm CEE countries into accepting abortion, gay marriage, transgenderism, etc (abortion was once completely legal under communism). They have no problem (through a network of foreign-sponsored NGOs, foreign-owned media, foreign "aid" programs, etc) insinuating these views and attacking those who oppose them with the usual accusations of fascism, misogyny, bigotry, and so on. I don't want to get into a debate about these issues here. I only wish to illustrate the aggressive, paternalistic, and presumptuous attempts to foist these ideological positions onto these societies with the help of wealthy financiers (such as Soros). Don't forget: most migrants come from societies where legal inventions like gay marriage not only doesn't exist, but gay relations are punishable.

Beyond that, I wouldn't overstate the transformation you believe was orchestrated by the current government. The state media in Poland changes hands every time the gov't changes and it is a drop in the bucket compared to the world of corporate media which backs the opposition parties regardless of which gov't happens to be in power. Many voted for the current gov't out of exasperation with the previous gov't and its allies. Also, the idea that you are ridiculed for criticizing the current gov't is silly. There is a deluge of criticism of the current gov't, from media outlets to cabaret satire. You are not unique in your perspective and your perspective resides very neatly in the narrative that's been spun by the opposition, its media backers, and affiliated parties. Even some high-ranking clergy in the Church have expressed criticism. Then there's the internet. Cities tend to have more left-leaning tendencies than rural areas. I have come across critics everywhere. I simply cannot fathom what small Polish island you live on where what you hold is remotely true.


> You can't base your opinions based on things like anecdotal accounts of two old ladies in a shopping mall and then extrapolate and generalize.

That was just an example of how widespread this attitude got recently. I've spoken to many people, including my (mostly liberal till recently) family, and the sentiment is similar.

> you might want to distinguish between patriotism and nationalism

I do distinguish them, and I consider myself a "positivist patriot", as opposed to "romantic nationalist" - which is a much more common attitude in Poland.

Patriotism becomes nationalism when people start to exclude others. It's already widespread - see "Poland for Poles" on national holidays, anti-Ukrainian resentment, etc.

> often at odds with the interests of countries like Germany and Russia

historically Poland was allied with one part of Germany, and fighting the other part of it. Most of old Polish cities were settled basing on German law, often by Germanic settlers. We've had our wars, but we've had wars against all of our neighbors.

Currently Poland and Germany only benefit from the cooperation, and the differences are vastly overstated because of internal politics (PIS using anti-German sentiment to fight opposition basically).

> the ~1 million Ukrainians Poland took in from war-torn Ukraine

you know well it's bullshit. 99+% of them are economic migrants. I'm from Lublin. I have Ukrainians in my family. I've been to Kiev this year, and to Ukraine many times. Ukraine west of Dniepr is as war-torn as Poland was in 2004 (we had 2 wars going on, remember?).

> The point is that this is a complex issue

It's only issue because politicians made it one. Had we accepted a few tousand imigrants there would be no issue, just like there's no issue in most of EU countries that did just that. Including even Hungary recently :)

But it was very convenient for PIS to use imigrants as a card during last elections, so they did, fuck the consequences. So we had the campaign of xenophoby in media, and the effects are pretty bad. Poland had 2500 Indian students last year. In the whole world there's almost 500 000 of them abroad. Out of 25 violent incidents against Indian students abroad, 9 happened in Poland in last year.

Violent crimes against Muslim minority in Poland grew almost twice from 2015 to 2016.

These are still minor concerns, simply because there's so few immigrants here. But it will have to change, because of demography. And no, 500+ won't help, it's simpe math. Even if every women in child-bearing age had 1 more kid than now - because of a demographic hole from 90s - the number of kids born will drop to record low in next decade.

Ukrainians are already there, but it won't suffice.

> Western leftists have no qualms trying to strong arm CEE countries into accepting abortion, gay marriage, transgenderism, etc

If you consider these things leftist, then the remaining non-leftist countries are Poland, Russia, and Muslim republics. And with Russia I'm not so sure, it's much more libral on abortion.

It's not "western leftist", who don't want to ban abortion no matter the conditions. Over 60% of Poles want abortion to be allowed (depending on the circumstances). And it was HIGHER in 90s. The propaganda that is the most widespread is Church and conservatives, not the mythical leftists. And it's working.

> I simply cannot fathom what small Polish island you live on where what you hold is remotely true.

I'm living in Lublin, visiting my family in small village nearby, and for a few months now and then I live in Warsaw. I wouldn't call it "island", it's pretty good cross-section of a Polish society.

> most migrants come from societies where legal inventions like gay marriage not only doesn't exist, but gay relations are punishable

Yes, and? Most of them aren't religious. Most of religious Muslims aren't extremists.

It's funny how fragile self-image of western (and - in consequence - Polish) right-wing is. Our (western) culture is WINNING. Kids in Egypt and Saudi Arabia watch Real Madrid and Hollywood movies. We don't watch their movies nor their sports. They know who Lewandowski is and what Shakira wear, we don't know who their stars and celebrities are.

The assimilation is never easy, but it's inevitable. And the problems western Europe has are nothing new. "The troubles" in UK had much bigger cost in lives than all the Muslim terrorists. France and Spain had their terrorists in 80s and 90s, too.

Terrorism crisis is mostly a PR problem.

http://www.datagraver.com/thumbs/1300x1300r/2017-05/ter-we-i...


>These are still minor concerns, simply because there's so few immigrants here. But it will have to change, because of demography. And no, 500+ won't help, it's simpe math. Even if every women in child-bearing age had 1 more kid than now - because of a demographic hole from 90s - the number of kids born will drop to record low in next decade.

I am not Polish or anything close to it, but I would imagine that most Poles would have a hard time getting excited about this. "Our culture is dying, but it's OK because we can bring in some third-worlders to keep the population numbers up!" does not exactly inspire jubilance.

Thinking about these two (fertility problems and anti-immigration sentiment) juxtaposed makes me wonder if they're connected. As an American, would I be as up-in-arms as I am about illegal immigration if I felt part of a strong, successful, viable culture that was by and for me? Probably not.

One other thing: that Saudi Arabian kids know who Shakira is is not a sign that Western culture is winning---at least, not the good parts. The parts I care about are things like Christianity, the rule of law, and, candidly, people who look like me. I feel like sort of a provocateur writing this, but it would have been an entirely unremarkable statement two hundred years ago---and I suspect the Poles are channeling something like it. WTF do they care about Shakira?


Yeah, I don't think anyone seriously believes that any first-world country is a fascist state. The worry is, one might become such state in 10-20 years, with all the oppression infrastructure readily available to use.


You underestimated the part when he studied philosophy.


>the surveillance state that's developing

you mean has been developed and deployed and actively in use for over a decade, and is continually expanding even now?

you can have oppression without murder, or even without the threat of violence... surveillance is a subtle tyrant, but don't mistake that for meaning that it is any less destructive.


Remember Google’s main business, Search, is still about getting you away from Google as quick as possible.

If Google sends you to a site with embedded adwords and analytics in what sense are you “away” from Google?


Also, there's AMP.


Also OneBox results, perhaps better-known as instant answers.

They've been around in various forms since at least as early as 2006[0]

[0] https://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2006/07/google-onebox-resu...


YouTube is at least 2x as bad as Facebook is in terms of indulging you in your addiction to whatever crazy conspiracy theory you want today (which is saying a lot). Facebook is perhaps better at exposing you to your neighbor's crazy conspiracy theory.

Somehow Google has managed to capture all of the profit from YouTube with none of the political/brand consequences by keeping the brand separate. It's working in the mass media and shockingly it's also somehow working in the minds of tech workers. Everyone talks about Facebook and Twitter but I rarely hear about YouTube even though I suspect they are way more influential with younger crowds.


In my experience, YouTube is a lot less spammy and attention-grabbing than facebook. It may be that my usage pattern is completely different to most users, but I almost always use YouTube by actively searching for stuff (I don't have a feed of "YouTube news", like it happens on facebook). There are no "This man wanted to surprise his wife and you'll never guess what happened" links in YouTube. I only get notifications about channels I'm subscribed to. Very occasionally -- almost never -- after watching a video I will click on suggested videos, because they are almost always relevant (besides music, I'm interested in hobby/miniatures/boardgames and the suggestions I get are almost always relevant).

Disclaimer: I use YouTube with uBlock, so I never have to see unskippable ads. In my opinion, this is the only way to use YouTube (and the only way which makes listening to playlists feasible); if this possibility ever goes away, I'll likely stop using YouTube.

edit: a sibling comment mentioned autoplay. Autoplay is indeed one of YouTube's spammy features, and I wish it went away.

With Facebook, it's almost constant spam about stuff I'm not interested in. People -- my contacts! -- share all kinds of crap. And Twitter is even worse, with lots of spam and with ads I constantly need to remind Twitter I don't want to see.


YouTube is not like FB to drive engagement is why. FB algo tries to leverage emotions to drive engagement and YT does not. There are times I actually wish YT would more instead of me having to do it.


"Target users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes." There is whole lot of other industries that do this - marketing, food packaging, adding additives like sugar, advertisement. He just described what every business does. It is ironic to hear from a billionaire who made his money investing in free market that Google and Facebook should be regulated.


It's possible that Soros is blind to those other issues because they always existed for him in some shape, during his life. Internet-based addiction, internet-based anything, computer-based anything, is something he was aware of it's introduction. That is much easier to notice, when you're alive during the change, rather than living with food additives always existing. (I think this would be called the Normalcy Bias.)

I suggest instead of seeing it ironically, see it as Soros being blinded by his biases, like we all are. Given that, it would be better to say "yes, this, AND it's also similar to XYZ", rather than appearing to dismiss what I think are very accurate views (on the danger of FB/attention merchanting).


Soros made his money by betting against people less shrew then he, not by manipulating people's minds. He's like a poker player who is opposed to modern slot machines that scream for attention and mislead about their odds of winning. Both are casino games, there's a clear ethical difference.


The difference is that most people feel like they understand cereal, although the marketing for most cereals are directly targeting children it's just a box of cereal so nobody cares.

Most people don't understand Google or Facebook (or even the internet as a generalized service) so saying advertisements are manipulating people in regards to that pushes some beyond the threshold of comfort. It's not really the one thing that causes an issue for them, but the whole stack of other things behind it that eventually causes them to focus on a singular point that's easiest for them to complain about. Nobody wants to complain about their personal lack of knowledge, but a big bad unknown scary thing is easy to rally against.


> Google’s main business, Search, is still about getting you away from Google as quick as possible

Google Analytics.

On virtually every website, tracking everybody, all the time. Google is trying to get as much data about us as they can, and if you are an ex-Googler, you are pretty blue-eyed.


Youtube? If you ever watch a kid going through one of those toy unwrapping channels its not far-fetched to think that there's something going on there that's playing on the way their brain works to keep them coming back for more.


Unboxing is the technical term :) Yes, my kids watch that crap, too. It's fiendishly addictive for them, scarily so.


Ah, yes. Thank you. :-) I am about to have my first so I expect there is a whole new world of YouTube-related lingo to learn!


> getting you away from Google as quick as possible.

Pretty sure virtually every website on the internet is talking to Google one way or another. So it doesn't really matter whether you're on Google or not, does it?


This also applies to Facebook with the ubiquity of the Facebook login SDK and tracking.


I deleted my FB cookies on my main browser and only ever login to FB on a different browser to try to minimize this. Although, I guess I could have done incognito mode.


Your friends, colleagues, and family likely have you in their contact lists, so Facebook knows you are missing from its graph. In lieu of an active profile they maintain a shadow profile for (at least) your phone number, and whatever additional information people who know you have unwittingly provided to Facebook and its daughters (e.g., WhatsApp).

Facebook knows us by our social connections. We don't have to actually use it for that. As long as your browser's privacy add-ons disable Facebook's widgets (the like-button) it probably can't track your browsing habits though.


Hm, there's the cesspool that is YouTube. And even with search, there's data collection and tracking. Does anyone on the internet ever really escape Google?


Facebook is definitely more in the straight up designed addiction game, but Google isn't far away in my mind.

Google's main business is advertising, through Search. To do this, they have to keep you coming back to Google and at the same time know everything about you to give you the most relevant ads. This is done by tailoring the search results to you, which is usually good, but can still create a "bubble" because I'll usually end up seeing articles that agree with my points of view without intending to do so.


>Remember Google’s main business, Search, is still about getting you away from Google as quick as possible.

Uuuuum...off the top of my head with no investigation at all:

If I search for anything that could plausibly involve a video, I get a string of youtube links at the top of my google search.

Google favors AMP links over sending me to the actual website.

I'm sure I could come up with more, given half a second. Ever been directed to bing maps from google, for example?


> Remember Google’s main business, Search, is still about getting you away from Google as quick as possible.

As a googler, you don't even know that your own company provides analytic tools for websites, as well as personalized integrated search for websites? ads on third party websites? webmaster tools? script cdn? font hosting? AMP cache ? ...

getting out of "google.com" doesn't mean that the user stops being tracked by google.


> Remember Google’s main business, Search, is still about getting you away from Google as quick as possible.

Away to a place that will show more Google ads.


>> Remember Google’s main business, Search, is still about getting you away from Google as quick as possible.

That's one perspective. Another is that it's about taking you were google wants as quickly as possible.


facebook's addiction is that most people love to be heard and seen. they want to be center of attention. I cannot fault facebook for enabling that. If anything it may have brought more people into association with others than any previous internet platform.

for me what Soros and many politicians have in common is they see two very powerful people enabling systems they don't hold sway over. Soros and his type with their money don't have it and politicians cannot control the message.

so both groups throw their wealth, influence, and power, behind efforts to convince people that entities like google and facebook are a threat to the people where they really are a threat to the old power brokers that are loathe to give them up.

it wasn't too long ago they controlled the message, either directly or through sycophants in the media. the internet through companies like google and facebook ended that control and hence constitute a threat


It's not that people don't want be be seen and heard, but that socials encourage the desire to be seen and heard. It the past, fame wasn't a priority.


I’d say google control information way more than facebook. For serious stuff, work or study you usually go to google. There is little recourse for content if it doesn’t display there.


Youtube?


It's half true now. Google used to help you find your way on the web, but now it's your world third eye. There's not really information outside google anymore. It will parse it, synthesize it in cards, connect it to local areas, pop up videos about it, etc etc.


Search "getting you away" from Google? Have you seen the result pages for many "juicy" queries? It's almost entirely Google properties and ads ATF.


I think Facebook and Google enable populism. George Soros doesn't like that, because if populism took care of everything they wouldn't need his billions funding organizations that seek to start populist movements that promote his values and narratives.

The main narrative that Soros promotes is "nationalism is racism" and the corralary "strong states are fascist". This is why he is unpopular with nationalist governments in Eastern Europe for example that reject EU immigration rules and why he attempts to undermine those government's legitimacy in Hungary for example. He can pay for media campaigns to support his positions and he can exert influence financially over media networks, but he can't control the masses on social media which thwart his vision.


> I think Facebook and Google enable populism. George Soros doesn't like that, because if populism took care of everything they wouldn't need his billions funding organizations that seek to start populist movements that promote his values and narratives.

I think you are falling into the fairly common "George Soros is evil" narrative and it causing you not to listen to what Soros actually is saying in this particular case.

Soros actually is focusing on three well established points that others also regularly make - these are quotes from the article:

(1) “This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.”

(2) In addition to skewing democracy, social media companies “deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes” and “deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide”. The latter, he said, “can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents”.

(3) Soros warned of an “even more alarming prospect” on the horizon if data-rich internet companies such as Facebook and Google paired their corporate surveillance systems with state-sponsored surveillance – a trend that’s already emerging in places such as the Philippines.

He isn't talking at all about social movements or populism on Facebook or Google, not at all. Remember that those are often outside of those platforms generally these days, such as Telegram in Iran or Twitter.

I feel like your comment is bringing in an axe to grind because of other grievances with Soros, rather than dealing with what he is actually saying in this particular article.


So maybe it’s a pot and kettle situation here.

At least for the first two points, Soros does the same thing:

1) George Soros also tries to manipulate how the public thinks and feels with his media campaigns

2) he manipulates people’s attention to focus on his political interests

Not saying either are particularly in the right for doing these things but it’s a little funny that this is so alarming for him, a major political donor and influencer


I guess I am not currently litigating whether Soros is evil or not. I think his points are real and others also endorse them.

I guess this is sort of a weird article, just saying what others have said but this time repeating it because the source, Soros, is unique and for some has more authority because is very wealthy. Basically nothing is new in the criticisms.


You must be demented.


> You must be demented.

We strive for a higher level of discourse at HN.


In the US, those kind of messages are usually more overt and organizations are legally required to disclose some info about the organization that sponsored the ads. You can (could?) kind of get away with influencing people anonymously using Facebook: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/us/politics/russia-2016-e...


There is a special place in Hell for those who made surveillance profitable. The surveillance apparatus of yesterday’s Eastern Europe tyrants was too inefficient and collapsed under its own weight. Leave it to adtech to build economically viable surveillance, which can and will be cooped by governments.


Surveillance is too broad of a term. For example, at what level do you consider user tracking NOT surveillance, and why? Are cookies surveillance? IP Logging? Is UserAgent surveillance?


"Surveillance" is in the intent. If I collect user tracking data and that data leaks, or the government requisitions it, does it not then become surveillance data?

FWIW, I have convinced myself that ubiquitous surveillance is pretty much inevitable as a side-effect to automation of infrastructure, so the question is how to manage it (rather than whether.) Right now we are seeing a split between "Morlocks" and "Eloi" where there is a huge gap between the understanding of the folks working at these AI-developing super-silos and the understanding of Joe and Jane User on the street.


That which allows mass surveilling?

The insidious thing is that sufficient storage + innocous tech can be transformed into surveillance... when everything's aggregated.


sufficient storage + innocous[sic] tech can be transformed into surveillance

Right, but it seems then you're saying that surveillance is more of an intention than it is a set of technologies. Some technologies make those intentions easier to act upon certainly, but the concept of "surveillance" needs to be defined better so that we can recognize what specifically makes it sinister.


I don’t have a horse in this race but I’m fascinated by the dynamic your back and forth represents.

Have you ever heard the old bit about how “a lie is best hidden between two truths”? I think a lot of people steer clear of truth from someone they don’t trust because they know what the next thing will be.

It’s counter to another saying, “if a thief tells you murder is bad, does that make him wrong?” But life is complicated.


Yeah I am no fan of Soros but in this case I mostly agree.


I'm not a fan of him in the least, but I'm still more inclined to believe that George Soros doesn't like enabling populism because he's a Jew who survived a Nazi occupation and has seen up close what populism leads to.

Also, you're contradiction yourself, because if Soros is all about starting populist movements, and Facebook and Google enable that, they would be his closest allies.

> The main narrative that Soros promotes is "nationalism is racism" and the corralary "strong states are fascist".

Did you catch the part about him being a Jew who survived Nazi-occupied Hungary?


> Also, you're contradiction yourself, because if Soros is all about starting populist movements, and Facebook and Google enable that, they would be his closest allies.

Not that I'm agreeing with the OP, but their point is subtler: Soros has his own tools for enabling whatever populist movements he wants to start. Shutting down Facebook's/Google's ability to empower populist movements denies others that same power, so it's of benefit to him (by letting him alone have that power).


You are right, but that still does not apply to this situation. While decentralisation of populism would take power away from centralised influencers, Soros is not arguing against this decentralisation. Quite the opposite.

The internet has new forms of influencing power that the previous media did not have. What he warns against is the centralisation of those powers in the hands of a few players, and the possibility of these players working together with totalitarian governments to create a dystopian surveillance state (personally, what I am even more freaked out about is the idea of a decentralised totalitarian surveillance state - there was a recent Wired article on how China is experimenting with this).

The claim that Soros has a "strong states are fascist"-rhetoric does not make much sense either. This is what he actually says in the article:

> “The internet monopolies have neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions. That turns them into a menace and it falls to the regulatory authorities to protect society against them,”

There are no business incentives for Facebook and Google to clean up their act, so he explicitly calls for more regulation. How is that not asking for a strong government? Of course, that's not what GP meant with "strong states". His "strong states are fascist" claim is that weird kind of self-denial that you typically see with people defending fascist governmental actions, but not wanting to be called fascist.

It typically plays out like this: person A argues that "government X is fascist, because A, B and C", where A, B and C are typically human rights violations carried out by X. Then person B, who is pro-X, reasons "But A, B and C are ways for our state to be strong! X is not fascist, you are just against strong states!" No, person A isn't against strong states. Person B just has ridiculous definitions of what a strong state is. The governments of the Nordic countries enforce a ton of regulation on companies within it. I would consider that a strong government. Few would call it fascist. Person B would probably call it weak.


Decentralisation of populism?

In my experience every populist movement can be traced to a single charismatic leader with a dictatorial streak who promises the moon and the sky to the hapless masses. I am and forever will be thoroughly unimpressed with any populist movement. It will always end badly.


Black Lives Matter is a current populous movement with no charismatic leader.

I would say populous movements usually pre-date their charismatic leaders. Trump supporters aren't anti- immigration because of Trump, rather it was by embracing an existing populous anti-immigrant mentality that he achieved power.


I agree with your description of populism, but it does not argue against decentralisation.

I guess you think of the single leader as the "centralised" focal point of a populist movement. I agree, but it's not what the word centralised refer sto. Instead, it refers to the media being centralised or not.

Any leader needs a platform to broadcast their message from. Centralised media have (some) selective power over the narrative, and therefore the role of gatekeepers or enablers (like when controversial figures get disproportionate attention because it causes more clicks - see also [0][1]).

The decentralisation aspect of the internet undermines that, which in itself is value-neutral. This is not something that never happened before; the printing press allowed Luther to bypass the gatekeeping powers of the Catholic Church[2]. As I mentioned elsewhere, this lead to massive social upheaval ending in the Thirty Year's War, so it's not all positive (worth noting is that Luther's biggest issue was with the so-called "indulgences", which allowed people to buy off their sins[3][4]. How is that for unfair wealth inequality?)

The point is that the printing press meant that a lot more voices could be heard by a lot more people. The Internet takes that to the next level. A lot more of those "single charismatic leaders" suddenly have a potential audience (this might explain why I feel disdain for most YouTubers: a lot of them want an audience for the sake of having an audience, without having a story to tell).

The Internet decentralises populism because it decentralises all communication. Clay Shirky (from whom I stole the printing press example) has written a lot on this[5].

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34LGPIXvU5M

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninety-five_Theses

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence

[5] https://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_the_internet_will_...


> Also, you're contradiction yourself, because if Soros is all about starting populist movements, and Facebook and Google enable that, they would be his closest allies.

There's a fallacy here involving your assumption that all populist movement follow the same agenda.

If they don't, they're clearly not allies, but rivals.


The claim was that Facebook/Google enable populism, not that they have populist agendas of their own.


[flagged]


Either do your homework, or if you did, stop pulling things out of context as if you don't know any better:

> Soros posed as the Christian godson of an official of the collaborationist Hungarian government's Ministry of Agriculture, who himself had a Jewish wife in hiding.

> Tivadar not only saved his immediate family but also many other Hungarian Jews, and George would later write that 1944 had been "the happiest [year] of his life," for it had given him the opportunity to witness his father's heroism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros

Hiding with a pretend-collaborator who saved many Jews is not "working with the Nazis"

On top of that, it is crass and naive at best to compare the current xenophobia of nationalists, to having to survive a fascist dictatorship whose officials can kill you any time they feel like it simply because you have a certain ethnicity. In practice it comes across more like a bully trying to paint himself as the victim.


I too had fallen prey to the anti-Soro propaganda, thinking he raided rich Jewish houses as a child. Appears from the article this is incorrect.


But you're open to being corrected at least.

All else being equal, those who have the least difficulty with admitting they are wrong, are wrong the least often.


So I can assume I'm usually right?


You can hope you won't be wrong for very long



> 60 Minutes Interview George Soros Tried to Ban - Atheist, Holocaust Criminal Conspiracy

> Rumors have circulated since protests and riots broke out following the election of Donald Trump last week claiming billionaire globalist and notorious meddler George Soros is backing the anti-Trump movement in an attempt to further destabilize the nation. Although the links thus far have, indeed, circumstantially indicated Soros’ involvement, the connections haven’t been entirely clear — until now.

Yeah, I don't think I need to sit through that for 60 minutes before I draw my conclusions.


You get the quote within the first 30 secs directly from soros’ mouth.

I think that a lot of the noise about the man is bogus. I also would rather be aware of facts than close-minded.


One would hope you would automatically support such a claim with some proof?


What the heck does "he is unpopular with nationalist governments in Eastern Europe" mean anyway? He is disliked by Hungarian government, because he is an obstacle on their path to greater power. That's it. You are making it sound like the whole eastern Europe doesn't like Soros.


I do see mentions of Soros from time to time in the local press (Romania). Usually happens when bigger institutions can’t be publicly blamed for interference in internal politics.

There’s even satire material which I find hilarious where he’s blamed for the cold weather and stuff like that.


I owe most of my professional life to one of Soros' foundations that donated computers (with a Linux server mind you) to poor cities in a poor country many many years ago. Ironically, I ended up working for one of the companies he's complaining about so I don't know how to feel about this. But I do agree that populism is generally bad (or nationalism, or religion etc), generally any idealism that places other things as more important over human life. Of course, the irony is some of these movements start from humanistic values, but end up losing their perspective.


> so I don't know how to feel about this

How about honestly evaluating the situation? People will often criticize Google, Facebook, etc, until they work for them, after which they rationalize.

It really isn't relevant whether you worked for Soros or not. What matters is what's true. If what he's saying is true, then you have to deal with it.


> his billions funding organizations that seek to start populist movements that promote his values and narratives.

I have seen a reversal on people's attitude on Soros in Eastern Europe. Initially he was seen as a benefactor, just someone wanting to bring openness and promote democracy to various parts of the world.

Eventually people realized he brings his own version / vision of "openness" and the end goals of his NGOs and movements do not necessarily align with the interests of the country they operate it. Not that the interests of the local government align or are beneficial to the local populace, either but that doesn't automatically make his influence a positive thing either. (The enemy of my enemy is not automatically my friend, I might just have 2 enemies now).


I would say that's because Eastern Europe has changed, to the better, and ironically in some regard because of his previous contributions. When Eastern Europe was still largely communist, his ideas of government and society (even if you don't subscribe entirely to them) were much better than the systems in place at the time. So of course everyone loved him.

Nowadays with much of Eastern Europe having pretty decent democratic societies (lots of problems still and the Russian influence has grown a lot lately) his ideas aren't seen as a pure "positive" contribution but more like a variation with its own pros and cons of the systems already in place.

Personally (like I said elsewhere in the thread) I own much of my professional life to one of his foundations and as such in my book he is a hero and a person that had a huge positive contribution on my life.


Certainly, many of the conspiracy theories are silly, but it is simply a matter of documented fact and common knowledge that Soros funds political movements in Central/Eastern European (CEE) countries that would not have otherwise received that support in their own countries, funneling money toward political causes that emerge out of nowhere. That sounds a lot like foreign meddling to me. He was also active in the region before the fall of the Berlin Wall, propping up those he saw fit to prop up. The transformation process that CEE underwent from socialist, centrally planned economies to free market, democratic republics is a complicated affair and with time, we've been learning more about the kinds of backroom deals and controversial changes that went on. It is fallacious to say, as some do, that because these countries are better off today than they were under Russian-sponsored communist rule, there's nothing wrong with the way these countries transitioned or with the resulting status quo. It's also silly to characterize everyone who opposes Soros a fascist (the fascist rhetoric is getting tiresome and will ultimately dilute the power of the term when applies to actual fascists). These are false dichotomies.

Of course, Soros is not alone in this regard, though he is an important figure. Piketty has called CEE "foreign-owned countries" given the extremely outsized control of the wealth and resources of these countries by Western companies (consider that 80% of the media in Poland are owned by foreign companies, mostly German). When foreign companies dominate the capital of a country and (usually through capital) influence the politics in a country, this is bad. Very bad.

Then there are the problematic values Soros promotes. It's one thing to share what you believe with others and allow them the space to consider your views. It's another to insinuate yourself and your views through a web of NGOs and other organizations.


> He can pay for media campaigns to support his positions and he can exert influence financially over media networks, but he can't control the masses on social media social media which thwart his vision.

Uh.. he can pay for media campaigns on Facebook too, just like many others are doing it with the "fake news".


I'd guess his position is more that nobody can buy or control changes to Facebook's ranking system, other than Facebook.

Which, even if Facebook decides to forgo profits in favor of "good", doesn't preclude a government passing a law that "All social media sites much prefer regime news stories over anything else."


So the biggest criticism of Soros is that he's not as effective as the Koch brothers, the Mercers, Robert Murdoch...?


yep. and it helps that he’s jewish because it plays into a lot of anti semitic conspiracies. just funny because the government is actually 100 pct controlled by the people you mentioned right now. i’ve never seen soros be nearly as powerful as mercer’s, koch’s, and adelson


FWIW, Soros has himself been accused of anti-Semitism by the AD, among others.


Are you referring to this? http://www.rense.com/general44/soros.htm

The ADL complains that any statement that Jews contribute to anti-Semitic feelings, is anti-Semitic. This is also a tactic that right-wing Israeli politicians use to deflect criticism.


> FWIW, Soros has himself been accused of anti-Semitism by the AD

Do you mean the ADL? Citation? Because googling "ADL Soros" finds lots of examples of the ADL condemning attacks on Soros as anti-Semitic, but nothing I can find credibly sourced of them condemning Soros as anti-Semitic.


> "nationalism is racism" and the corralary "strong states are fascist"

Which is entirely backed up by the history of ultra-nationalist states.


No. "All fascist states were strong states" does not imply "all strong states are fascist."

Trivial counterexample: "All bananas are fruit" does not imply "All fruits are bananas".


Facebook doesn't really enable populism as much as it centralizes on populism. On a common platform, opinions and news can spread very quickly. Faster than people have time to rationally digest and or to determine what they're reading is accurate or not.

Facebook is really a perfect tool for people like Soros. You can promote whatever news or opinion you want if you have the money, targeting whichever group you want.

Anyone with a big enough bank account can take advantage of this centralized platform to influence people on a vast scale.


I find it interesting that in past years there was a call for self determination of the people. But that was turned around and now attacked by the same people who now favor globalism and want to impose their globalist view on countries. Not sure how successful they will be imposing this view on China and a growing India though.


i mean self determination was never really followed. see: vietnam, korea, iran, cuba.. and dozens of other wars or coups to overthrow self determined governments.


I dont see how your argument applies to vietnam or korea. Please elaborate.


All of the ones you did mention did follow self determination. Otherwise it's saying the US didn't follow self determination, because we had to fight the British. Or the USSR didn't follow self determination because the actively had to counter the US and the west.

No, i think all those mentioned did follow self determination, ultimately.

But now the people who championed it no longer denounce imperialism but instead promote a new imperialism, globalization.


i mean the us never really supported self determination when it was at odds with self interest


This sounds like a rant by someone under influence of Hungary's hate campaign against Soros. The fact is that Hungarian government is dismantling democracy and both EU and Soros are right in pointing that out. And while immigration is a matter of national sovereignty, the attitudes towards Muslim immigrants in eastern Europe are driven by nothing but pure xenophobia.


Right on. The government in Hungary are scandalous in their treatment of immigrants and their own Roma people. And to think, it was only 13 years ago we let them into the EU. When, in turn, people on their doorstep in trouble come knocking, the door is firmly slammed in their face.


Eastern European and Western European countries' past history and experience is very different from one another. And events that happened 600 years ago influence that world-view to this day.

The way an "enlightened" Frenchman or Italian might view Turkey is very, very different from how a Bulgarian (such as myself) or Serb would view them. As to who's more "correct" in their view, well - that's a whole different subject.

These are complex issues and calling Hungary a bunch of racist twats is exactly the same as what Hungarians are doing to "refugees", who, interestingly enough, are disproportionately young men, in good physical condition, running away from countries that are not Syria or otherwise in a state of war. Some of the photographs I've seen of the border crossing show a distinct and very noticeable lack of women and children. And that in itself is also a very interesting subject we could debate for hours.


> Some of the photographs I've seen of the border crossing

and you trust those photos?


The most popular set of photos used to spread this meme are scenes of a group of migrants arriving by train in Munich (not at a border crossing) that are exclusively young men; for reasons not entirely clear to me they were on a separate train from the women and children in the same group, who arrived the next day.

There's also pictures of groups of boat refugees that show a large imbalance, which is true of those using that mode of transport, who often leave women and children to follow on once they've found a place because of the extreme danger of the route (which, yes, might evidence some degree of non-progressive concept of gender roles, but that's not the issue being raised.)


What are you insinuating? Might be running from forced conscriptions. Or mass graves, remember Srebrenica.


Someone may say we(central and eastern Europeans) let your (western European I guess) companies in;) http://piketty.blog.lemonde.fr/2018/01/16/2018-the-year-of-e...


If it were pure xenophobia or "irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries" the Hungarians would be worried about the Austrians and Swedes as much. However for some strange reason they treat the religion of peace types differently.


I think the category "fear of outsiders" is certainly partially true, but also a somewhat oversimplification. Having said that, a healthy dose of "fear of outsiders" isn't necessarily a bad thing either. We are all xenophobic, the question is how xenophobic are we, or how xenophobic should we be?


> dismantling democracy

Isn't George Soros also 'dismantling democracy' by influencing elections in places he is not a citizen of?


Democracy without a Bill of Rights is simply dictatorship of the majority. That's why modern democracies have a Constitution and a justice system that is independent of the election system. You are technically right that if someone from outside tries to influence the result of some election that would be meddling with the democratic process but at the same time if that democratic process is considering getting the majority to vote against human rights of certain ethnic groups I don't think it deserves much defense to begin with.

In other words, democracy is a tool, not an end in itself.


>You are technically right that if someone from outside tries to influence the result of some election that would be meddling with the democratic process

No, he isn't. If someone from the outside is influencing the system to preserve key characteristics it has, they aren't subverting the process.

No one thinks foreign election observers sent to oversee contested elections are the heralds of the end of democracy; quite the opposite.


Election observers are specifically tasked with not influencing the result in a preferred direction; though the accusations that they are influencers is often made to deligitimize them and cause them to be seen as anti-democratic.

So the example is, depending on how you look at it, either irrelevant or diametrically opposed to the point you offer it to support.


Observing certainly influences the election if the non-observed state of the election would involve voter intimidation, ballot box stuffing, or any other corrupt practice.

Hence we can distinguish between interventions aimed at subverting the democratic process and interventions based upon reinforcing them.

Whether or not Soros' interventions are enabling democracy or subverting them is a separate debate. My statement is just to show that the premise that 'any' interference is anti-democratic is demonstrably false.

z0ltan 8 months ago [flagged]

Found the shill.


We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the HN guidelines. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


funny how the anti-semitic george soros propaganda is so prevalent. yes, a jewish billionaire secretly runs the world. meanwhile the koch’s and mercer’s own the us govt wholesale.


Funny how you're the only person to bring up his Jewishness.


They're bringing it up, just not by name. It's anti-Semitic conspiracy theory accessories. It's garbage.


Facebook and Google both have histories of actively shaping user behaviour and directing attention which are very problematic. I definitely agree with that. Particularly Facebook, which seems much more aggressive and tone deaf in that regard. It’s a problem that I think is a legitimate area for regulation or at least oversight combined with voluntary restraint, because users are being deceived. They should at least know how their attention is being directed and have some controls over it.

I don’t agree that treating them as utilities is going to foster innovation. Really? Utilities are examples of innovation? Both Google and Facebook are still highly innovative companies, that’s how they created and consolidated their positions. They key is that the future success of their innovations should be based on merit versus other innovative companies, rather than based on leveraging their current market strength in anticompetitive ways.

This is all really hard to do. There is just as much threat that clumsy regulation will stifle innovation, fossilize market positions and increase costs as there is that lack of regulation will lead to abuses by these companies. It’s good that this issue is being debated, but I don’t think anyone has good answers yet.


Utilities are examples of innovation?

It’s funny, I take streaming 4k from Netflix totally for granted but I am genuinely impressed by the way natural gas and fresh drinking water appear in my house as if by magic.


And urban life as we know it would be impossible without sewage and sanitation services.


Sure, but it’s more important that they be reliable than innovative.

Remember the 80s when people thought that online services would be provided by information utilities? Imagine if the internet still didn’t exist, and your choice for external connectivity was between AOL and Compuserve. But hey, at least thyou bits and bytes would come gushing into your house right on tap.


We've had that technology since Rome. I think it's fair to say most current internet and cable monopolies have been dragging their feet on upgrades, and even actively resisting innovation.


> We've had that technology since Rome.

No, the Romans did, through their government. Then it all disappeared until the last century, when governments brought them back.


A comparison to oil monopolies confirms that he's entirely confused. There is absolutely no historical analog to Google or Facebook.

Everything about the internet and computer technology is uncharted territory. The most technical human on earth can't predict what will happen even 5 years in the future.

It is safe to predict that Google and Facebook are going to be obsoleted by newer, cheaper, better technology. Google/Facebook operate highly inefficient businesses and that's the weakness that will wipe them both out. No government intervention will be necessary.

Hint: #decentralization

The big internet risk is the last mile, controlled by Comcast/AT&T. We need a campaign to move the whole country to fiber conduit powered by local internet providers.


> Hint: #decentralization

Any idea how it's going to happen? Historical evidence so far suggests technologies tend to centralize. And it's quite obvious why - centralized systems are generally more efficient in terms of energy use, time and (important for market) money. There's a solid incentive gradient pushing things towards further centralization, and very weak one in the opposite direction. I do not see anything on the horizon that would change it (and no, blockchains don't count for now - if anything, cryptocurrencies are a lesson in just how quickly systems centralize).


Don't these things move in cycles?

1. The first computers were huge machines that everyone logged into with thin clients

2. Then the PC era where computing became decentralized and all computing took place on a single machine

3. Then the internet, which went back to the thin clients connecting to large central servers

If you believe that the reason for the shift away from decentralization was to enable coordination of multiple PCs so they had access to the same centralized data (for reading or shopping or whatever) then its really not a stretch that distributed consensus algorithms could be a way back to decentralization.

> and no, blockchains don't count for now - if anything, cryptocurrencies are a lesson in just how quickly systems centralize

Not disagreeing with you on the current state, but I believe that is because the people most engaged right now are the same types who day trade penny stocks and options, i.e., low-information high risk seekers. Many of the structures of the cryptocurrency market seem lifted from a student's textbook about how markets can or should work. I see zero discussion of why different structures like open outcry exchanges and centralized regulatory agencies existed originally and what roles they serve now. Maturity, both in the users and the infrastructure, should help this.

I recently had a discussion with a trader-type about why exchanges should exist at all for cryptocurrencies given the volatility cause by a combination of high volume, few market makers, and lots of friction between exchanges. The responses were about price discovery and how would we trade? I don't think they believed me that, as a stock trader, you have almost certainly never traded a stock on an actual exchange and high volatility means its value for economic price discovery is nearly useless.

But please resist the urge to conclude that what is happening in the cryptocurrency markets has any bearing on the potential of distributed consensus algorithms.


I think the crux of it is UX and monetization.

Both of those are harder to do with a decentralised system, and it's hard to do proper UX without money to bring engineers and designers together.


"Historical evidence" does not exist! There are new decentralized protocols being launched every ~day now. This is how decentralization really works, it's crazy and wild, and not at all planned by anyone.

Even just an evolved version of this, a ten thousand centralized internet currency marketplace, would constitute a decentralized internet currency system. And this is probably the weakest system that could result.


> There are new decentralized protocols being launched every ~day now

That may be true, but why does it matter if there's no adoption? As the guy you replied to pointed out, there's no incentive to use a decentralized system for the average user as it's more inefficient and slower by design.

I'm not saying that I'm not interested in decentralized systems, I'm simply arguing that there's no incentive to use them except for a few people whose interest in privacy is very high.


Comparison to oil makes sense in that they are extracting a resource at a rate it probably shouldn't be extracted at.

In this case the resource is attention.

Let's hope the long-term effects of extracting attention for a couple decades is limited :)


No one can predict the future but you predict the demise of Google and Facebook. Okay. :)


It's a fairly safe prediction. Most large companies eventually make a strategic error (like missing a disruptive innovation) that eventually leaves them bankrupt, acquired, or just irrelevant. For hard data look at the Fortune 500 today versus 50 years ago. How many companies have maintained leadership versus how many are just gone? Sure there are always exceptions and Google and Facebook may beat the odds, but that would be a risky bet.


Disproving old people arguments is so easy. Just call him confused, outdated, out of place, and you automatically win the argument.


You're confused, I didn't just call him confused, I also said why he was confused.


I agree with your thesis that we are in an uncharted territory - but predicting that Google and Facebook are going to be obsoleted soon does not follow from this. The problem with social media is that they can control how we think and in particular how we think about them. There might never be a way out of that.


That would assume bad intent on behalf of said companies.

I would caution to use that as a motive for these kind of thought experiments


A long time ago, the printed word was the way to influence and disseminate ideas. Some ideas good, some less and most people could not read.

Then came Radio with it's ads and shows. It was another way to nudge the masses and shape the 'public' opinion. Everyone who had a radio could tune-in.

Television, the moving image! The joy: everyone could watch an endless stream of shows. This was not lost on advertisers ,corporations and propaganda arms of the states.

Now comes FB, Google, Twitter and all these attention hoarding 'services'.

I am not a user of any social medias (not do I condone their use), but how is that different from the previous innovations which allows mass communication? If anything it seems to me that Soros and others might find it decentralizes and weakens their power of media convergence? Would Soros think the same if he had been CEO of FB?

Of course I am sad of seeing so many young people wasting their attention on their illuminated mobile screens, and certainly see the harm in it. But Soros, what is you 'beef' with FB? I doubt that the devolution of humanity makes him loose sleep at night.


David Foster Wallace addresses this in his essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction" [1]. The essay was written just as computing technology was starting to get to the point where it was clear it was about to be ubiquitous. For context, DFW is attacking Gilder's hypothesis that the decentralized nature of the next big medium will give people some measure of control over their reality, and he is using a novel by Leyner about a future in which everybody can slice and dice their experience of reality at will to illustrate his point.

"Leyner's world is a Gilderesque dystopia. The passivity and schizoid decay still endure for Leyner in his characters' reception of images and waves of data. The ability to combine them only adds a layer of disorientation: when all experience can be deconstructed and reconfigured, there become simply too many choices. And in the absence of any credible, noncommercial guides for living, the freedom to choose is about as "liberating" as a bad acid trip: each quantum is as good as the next, and the only standard of a particular construct's quality is its weirdness, incongruity, its ability to stand out from a crowd of other image-constructs and wow some Audience."

I found it disturbingly descriptive of today's cultural landscape.

(NOTE: Obviously fiction analysis != analysis of reality, but the essay has some very good points.)

[1] https://jsomers.net/DFW_TV.pdf


Did you even read the article?

> “The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies” (...) Soros warned of an “even more alarming prospect” on the horizon if data-rich internet companies such as Facebook and Google paired their corporate surveillance systems with state-sponsored surveillance (...) “This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined. (...) The internet monopolies have neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions. That turns them into a menace and it falls to the regulatory authorities to protect society against them”

You're talking about the decentralisation effect of the internet. He is talking about the centralised power of surveillance and influence attained by these companies, so the exact opposite.

But even if we pretend he argued what you imply he's arguing: the printing press gave us protestantism followed by the Thirty Year's war. Nazis partially came to power because they were the first to master mass media propaganda. So yes, the Internet is a menace to society, in the sense that it causes social upheaval and enables good and bad things to happen. Like with the printing press and mass media, we need to figure out as a society how to avoid the bad influences and keep the benefits.

> Would Soros think the same if he had been CEO of FB?

That is an absurd proposition: if George Soros had been CEO of FB, he would be a different person from who he is now. That is like asking "would you think that fast food is unhealthy if you had been the CEO of MacDonald's?" Probably not, but the fact that I believe fast-food is unhealthy is probably one of the reasons that I didn't seek a career at McDonalds in the first place.


In the same way poppy juice differs from oxycontin.


How about we start treating internet as a public utility before we start demanding that web apps are.


I would rather solutions to large concentrations of tech power not come from above, in the way of government further expanding its control over the private sphere, but from below, via technological innovation in the form of distributed technologies like blockchains.


I'd rather that too, but it is quite likely impossible. Technological innovation unleashed on the free market is what caused this. Monopoly is a natural end-goal of a company, and it's the usual job of governments to prevent companies from achieving that goal.

(Also, I don't think governments need to approach this problem by expanding scope of their control; they could use the control they already have. Just break up too big companies, and the next time someone gets this large, break them up too. No need for extra special regulations.)

The only way blockchains can be effective at combating large concentrations of tech power is by cooking the planet, so there's no more technological civilization, and quite probably, also no more humans.

I just can't see why the one technology that has unbounded energy waste problems and is primarily used for get-rich-quick schemes is also seen as a feasible way to solve societal problems.


These technologies broke up arguably worse monopolies, over information (Google democraticizing access to information) and media (Facebook and other social media companies breaking the hold that mass media had over people's opinions by giving them an avenue to directly communicate).

I think people forget how bad the mass media situation was. We had a handful of companies disseminate one way broadcasting to the entire population. The audience were passive viewers whose choices in programming were extremely limited, and who had very little ability to participate in the creation and curation of the media content.

So I don't think it's clear that the market, left to its own devices, doesn't evolve toward the direction of greater personal autonomy and empowerment, and it's certainly not clear that it doesn't have the potential to.

>>Monopoly is a natural end-goal of a company, and it's the usual job of governments to prevent companies from achieving that goal.

Bottom up switch over to open source is a viable market solution to market monopolies. If Android or Linux become the market standard in OSs for example, that is not a proprietary monopoly that gives one group control over the OS.


> I think people forget how bad the mass media situation was (...)

Good point. Come to think of it, Facebook is a huge improvement over what came before. Some could say that the pre-Facebook blogging era was better, but I don't think those times ever had a chance of growing to encompass regular people. Most of the people who now share their lives on social media wouldn't bother hosting their own blogs. This thought colors my next point:

> Bottom up switch over to open source is a viable market solution to market monopolies.

I don't buy it for the same reason I think Internet-of-blogs wasn't a stable state - it's much easier to take open-source code and turn it into business than it is to take a business and make it open source. Open source, by its nature, avoids attracting money, and money is exactly how you win mindshare. You say, "If Android or Linux become the market standard in OSs for example", but the truth is that the only Android that could become a market standard is the Google Android, and Linux has no chance in hell as long as Microsoft and Apple have money to better tailor (and market) their OSes to end users (regular people and corporations).

If anything, Open source has proven to be primarily successful for building blocks - libraries, frameworks, server operating systems, etc. Basically all the things that are not core to doing business. Sure, some of the things that open source displaced were market niches before - but they were all supporting infrastructure. The only sort-of-exception I can think of here is Google Chrome, but it only reduced Microsoft's monopoly, while enabling Google's monopoly.

Ironically, web browsers are what ultimately killed end-user open source software. With SaaS being the dominant model of software deployment these days, there is no open source. You don't know what code actually runs on third party servers. You can't run it yourself easily (or most commonly, at all). We've completely lost the ability to download, inspect, modify and share most of the software we use, and "in exchange", we also let third parties take our data hostage.

No, this development does not sound like open source being an alternative to market monopolies. In fact, it sounds like the exact opposite.


>>Some could say that the pre-Facebook blogging era was better, but I don't think those times ever had a chance of growing to encompass regular people.

Agree entirely.

>>the truth is that the only Android that could become a market standard is the Google Android, and Linux has no chance in hell as long as Microsoft and Apple have money to better tailor (and market) their OSes to end users (regular people and corporations).

Well Google Android has a much less entrenched position than Windows did, and it's precisely because it is open source. One can run non-Google Androids that are fully compatible with other Android apps, and Google would never be able to charge for its version for that reason.

>>Open source, by its nature, avoids attracting money, and money is exactly how you win mindshare.

While that's often the case, there are times where its nonproprietary nature facilitates its adoption. The fact that no one group owns an open source project can be an attractive feature, especially when disparate parties are looking for a common protocol or platform to collaborate through.

Cryptocurrency is both open source and attracts money. That's why I think blockchains might succeed against traditional web companies.

All-in-all I think our chances of being to solve the market monopoly problem with technology is good given the space of possible solutions. Of course this is just an opinion and I can't prove that it will work.


> I just can't see why the one technology that has unbounded energy waste problems and is primarily used for get-rich-quick schemes is also seen as a feasible way to solve societal problems.

I see where you're coming from, but cryptocurrencies are not the only use of blockchain.

That's a shame that bitcoin throws such a big shadow over everything else.


Do you have any resources on blockchains-but-without-cryptocurrency-applications? I'd love to read them to rebalance my perspective.

If, as you say, there is something worthwhile under the shadow of Bitcoin, I feel it really needs get itself a PR flashlight.


What would you consider an example of a monopoly being broken by the market rather than government intervention?


Android breaking Windows' monopoly on operating systems. It did so largely by eclipsing the desktop computer by facilitating the creation of a new mode of personal computing.

One could argue that TCP/IP and web standards like HTTP and HTML similarly made the desktop and its associated software (operating system, productivity suites, etc) less relevant, by increasing the ability of desktop users to access computing resources served by machines running different operating systems (e.g. a Linux server).


So what you're saying is that you can't break a monopoly through market forces, but merely wait out the monopoly market's relevance?


You can make the monopoly less relevant or irrelevant by superseding its market. Maybe saying that's a case of "breaking the monopoly" is a stretch, but the point is it's a valid solution to the problems of a monopoly, which emanate from the market and financial power its controller wields.


Politicians are already in the pockets of monopolies, that's why.

Look at Microsoft: their monopoly on the desktop was broken by the rise of mobile, so clearly by market forces. Monopolies just get replaced by other monopolies.


Not arguing about the politics, but there is no viable economic and/or technological strategy to compete against Facebook/Google from below. People have been trying for more than a decade already.


To bring some counterweight to all the hatred towards George Soros:

A recent Freakonomics Radio show taught me he is a skilled Esperanto speaker. Esperanto enthusiasts generally belong to the more altruist type of people. This might or might not apply to him, but I considered this a sign he probably means well.

Edit: I see he learned it as a child from his father. I guess in that case it says little about his personality.


Yeah, George Soros is one of the ~1000 or so native Esperanto speakers in the world. Interestingly, another native Esperanto speaker won a Nobel prize! I'm not sure what other language can claim that 0.1% of its native speakers are Nobel laureates and another 0.1% are billionaires.


> A recent Freakonomics Radio show taught me he is a skilled Esperanto speaker. Esperanto enthusiasts generally belong to the more altruist type of people. This might or might not apply to him, but I considered this a sign he probably means well.

Let me get this right, your argument is bluntly 'all Esperanto speakers are nice'?

How utterly ridiculous.


As I wrote: I think, on average, Esperanto speakers are more altruistic.

Someone who knows more about it should jump in, but as I get it: due to the limited use of the language, a lot of sharing is involved in the community.

Also, learning an almost useless language is hardly a selfish thing to do.

Why do you think this reasoning is ridiculous?


Does that really provide a counterweight to his role in Ukraine's recent conflict (which resulted in thousands of deaths)?



George Soros didn't do anything wrong on Black Wednesday. Rather he did the world a service by helping to destroy an obsolete and unsustainable financial system that was actually harming the world's economy. If Soros hadn't done it then someone else would have done the same thing.


> If Soros hadn't done it then someone else would have done the same thing.

That's a terrible moral defence.


Morality has nothing to do with it in this particular case. When something is unsustainable it will eventually stop one way or another.


A world famous hedge fund manager who made a fortune betting on the right side of billions of dollars worth of trades calls tech companies a menace to society.

Please, do tell.


I agree with all except that it needs to be regulated. Nor Google nor Facebook (nor any social media) are pushed down our throats, and it is the choice of the people to use it. I don't understand how consumers can build judgement and learn to be responsible for themselves if we always shelter them from poor consumption choices through regulation laws. Furthermore if they're unaware enough to need regulation laws, it means they're unaware enough to be abused by regulation laws, so it's definitely not an actual solution.


Dataism is here to stay: if it is not Google / Facebook, it will be somebody else. Progress can not be stopped. Those regulating their technology industry will be left behind. Taking a line from Jurassic Park: "Life finds a way".

We are doomed to become irrelevant, unless we are really special, which is not probable.


The real problem with Google, Facebook and other social media companies is that they are two faced. They present themselves as information sources based on organic interactions and ratings of their users but there can't be any guarantee that they don't manipulate feeds for other purposes.

Even without an advertising model, we can't go back to a time without curation. People try to game rankings and ratings for other reasons. That means that we can't trust what we see on social and, more importantly, draw any inference from what we don't see.

Society needs avenues of unmediated communication. I don't know what that would look like for social.


Pot, meet kettle...


It seems inevitable to me that these monopolies on search and social (and in other areas) will be replaced by something less centralized/subject to surveillance/propaganda and more sane and decentralized. We need open distributed, flexible, evolvable but also on some level holistic software protocols and systems that can be widely deployed rather than giant servers/ platforms controlled by for-profit companies in league with over-powered government.

See r/rad_decentralization on Reddit.


If the rumours that Zuckerberg is prepping for the US presidency are true then this will be one of the first attacks to come on his business and character.


Yup, and mr. Soros is such a nice guy. It's manipulating the society a bad thing, not the tools the bad guys use. Social media democratized manipulating the society, made it cheaper, that's all.


Google+ is the best social network, I haven't been there in years.



We are seeing more and more news and speeches like that recently. While I agree with a lot of them, in terms that these big players are really bad for society, I keep thinking, what is making all of this to be published now? Who is actually behind that? If FB / Google fall, if the web with ads as we have today fall, who will get a ton of money?

Some of it might be a trend as we are seeing a lot of books, paid articles about focus, ditching social networks, etc, but I dunno if that is the trend or just a bi-product of the articles in the big media.


I would say that to some extent it’s always been there. At different times, the public is more or less willing to hear certain arguments.

So arguments that only existed in say academia or quarterly political journals are now allowed to flow into more “regular” news sources.

Also, it doesn’t help that now Google / Facebook are hated by both the left and the right. Usually you can survive for a while by playing both one side off of another. Very quickly though they got surrounded surrounded on all sides, like the Germans at Stalingrad, and there is no way out, and the vise grows tighter everyday.


George soros himself seems pretty menacing to me


It feels like we're just trying to find something to get pissed off about. No one is forcing anyone to use these services. Everyone is using it by their own volition.


I kind of feel like a billionaire calling anyone or anything a threat to society (in the sense of communal support) is very much a case of Pot Kettle Black.


This is entirely peripheral to the discussion but I actually attempted to “watch” the live feed of Soros’ speech on facebook.bloomberg.etc You know, where the little face emojis, each with a comment, flash across the stream. Never saw such unabashed hatred for anyone. Lies that a nine-year-old Jewish kid was a Nazi collaborator, implications that he was Satan, plaintive wishes that he would just die, “the works.” It was a remarkable focus and quantity of pure hatred of a single person.


I bet a lot of these comments come from central Europe, where Orban and his likes discovered that Soros fits well into the popular image of bad rich Jewish capitalist conspiring for world dominance. They use him to appeal to latently antisemitic voters.

And mind you, the commenters are mostly not young neo-Nazi holocaust deniers. They are old men and aging ladies, often looking back to the glorious days of communist regime. Also, they don't deny holocaust at all. Rather they regret it wasn't drawn to completion.


Soros is a vocal capitalist. His speeches were very informational to my trading activity. Average people can’t handle the truth.


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why did you post this comment? is there some kind of implication? or is it just a nonsequitur?


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> I'm not implying whether Soros had insider information, but the timing & circumstances will certainly raise questions.

You're explicitly implying that he had knowledge of an impending mass shooting. "I'm just asking questions" is a coward's defense.

The 13F is filed after the quarter in which the trades are made, so this one covered the 2nd Quarter of 2017. This means that the trade was entered sometime between April and June of last year.

So the timeline of your conspiracy theory:

* May-June 2017 - Soros learns that there's going to be a mass shooting at an MGM property and takes out a moderate short position while the stock trades between $27-$34. He does this under his own name at a fund with mandatory disclosure requirements.

* September 8th - The shooter books his room at the MGM after examining several other properties, including so called "Dry Runs" at a festival in Chicago at non-MGM properties.

* October 1st - Shooting occurs.

* October 2nd - MGM trading resumes and the stock is down sharply .... to $31/share. It briefly dips below $30/share a few weeks later but eventually climbs back to $36/share.

So Soros is this evil genius that knows when mass shootings will occur and decides to profit instead of alerting the authorities, but he's so incompetent that he doesn't make any money via these suspicious short positions.

Cool.


Your description reminds me of Black Mirror Season 3 Episode 6, Hated In The Nation.


Do you think it would be any different for a speech from one of the Koch brothers? People who use their wealth to directly influence the political process are particularly reviled by their ideological opponents.


https://www.google.se/search?q=ben+garrison+soros&tbm=isch

https://www.google.se/search?q=infowars+soros (400k+ hits)

Try this with breitbart, glenn beck, fox news, right wing subreddits etc.

Is there any similar counterpart for Kochs and Mercers et al?


Are you wondering if there are lots of political cartoons for them? Seems to be.

https://www.google.com/search?q=koch+political+cartoons&sour...


I think this description isn't damning the person giving the speech, but the hateful audience.


So you're saying that Koch brother audiences are less hateful?

Have you spent any time on twitter? Have you found a particularly virtuous and polite political camp that doesn't vitriolically attack their opponents?


I'm saying that I'm more inclined to group Soros and Koch brothers together in one group, and hateful audiences on both in the second group. I'm also inclined to dislike that second group more than the first one.


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The top comment should be one advocating the rape of a philanthropist?


Please don't feed egregious comments by replying to them. Instead, flag them as the site guidelines ask: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.


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This comment is both rude and dumb. Please do not post like this here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html


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If you want to make this argument, you should explain why that is and how it’s even relevant in the context of his statement about tech companies’ monopolistic power.

Otherwise it just comes across as a useless knee-jerk reaction to the name of Soros: “Hurr hurr reptilian Jews new world order something something globalists.”


As you appear to know, Soros is something of a divisive figure, especially recently and especially amongst conservatives. It can be seen if you look at very conservative outlets like Breitbart or study the statements of the Hungarian government and other eastern European governments. Hungarian ministers and the PM in particular really hate Soros and frequently attack him.

Essentially, the gist of the complaint is that Soros is the world's largest social engineer. This is obviously very relevant in the context of Soros calling for tech firms to be tightly controlled so people only see "right" information, as he sees it - this would seem likely to be another part of his social engineering effort.

He has set up a fund with about 32 billion dollars in it, explicitly for the purpose of ensuring society follows his preferred path - one world government, open borders everywhere, EU replacing national governments, legal abortion everywhere, mass migration from Africa and so on.

To achieve this Soros must have tremendous influence on politics, which he does through his extensive lobbying, and his fund - being dedicated specifically to the global triumph of liberal politics - routinely makes huge donations to political parties, campaign groups, etc around the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros#Political_involve...

Thus an article where he calls for important news feeds to be controlled by governments is concerning for two reasons:

1. It's not just a guy with an opinion. It is a public instruction to all politicians everywhere on what they must do to qualify for more of his money.

2. He is likely being disingenuous about his real reasons. He says "think of the children" but his foundation is not about child protection. It puts far more emphasis on migration policies than that.


> He has set up a fund with about 32 billion dollars in it, explicitly for the purpose of ensuring society follows his preferred path - one world government, open borders everywhere, EU replacing national governments, legal abortion everywhere, mass migration from Africa and so on.

1) You're making a few assumptions.

* Taking refugees is not the same as open borders and mass migration.

* Nation cooperation is not the same as world government.

2) I'm not even sure what the problem with legal abortion everywhere is, but that's beside the point I guess.

3) You specifically acknowledge he's open about this, in multiple of your paragraphs, and I fail to see where in the flow chart he makes money from this. So it all boils down to him having amassed a huge fortune and now using this for causes he ostensibly believes in.

It's all fine if you strongly disagree with those politics, but to build on GP, it's interesting that Soros is blamed for everything from bussing in illegal voters to something something pedophile rings.

> 2. He is likely being disingenuous about his real reasons. He says "think of the children" but his foundation is not about child protection. It puts far more emphasis on migration policies than that.

Again, "likely"... Likely why? What does he gain from migration policies? In your point just before you explicitly state that "it is a public instruction". Then why can't it be about child protection if that is his public instruction.

It's hilarious to me that the same people crying wolf about Soros have zero reservations about the news outlets, think tanks, politicians that get immense amounts of money from the Kochs and Mercers, where there is clear financial gain for doing so.


Taking refugees is not the same as open borders and mass migration. Nation cooperation is not the same as world government.

Your statement is true. But Soros and his foundation supports the latter in both cases, so it's also not relevant.

Here are some quotes to show this is true. Note that I am not Hungarian and don't particularly care about Soros myself. However the criticisms of what he's doing aren't conspiracy theories or the ravings of lunatics. It's quite well documented and open.

For instance, after a memo was leaked from his foundation, the OSF said this:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3743479/Left-wing-bi...

The OSF told MailOnline: 'We are committed to making sure that anyone who chooses to migrate—regardless of motivation—is able to do so safely and with dignity ... we support local organizations and policymakers who are working to ensure vulnerable populations are protected, that migrants are empowered to contribute to host societies and home countries, and that migrant voices are heard.

Note the foundation talks about migration in general, not refugees.

With respect to one world government, Soros has said:

“Insofar as there are collective interests that transcend state boundaries, the sovereignty of states must be subordinated to international law and international institutions.”

Albeit, this quote is old, I do not know offhand if he's said similar things recently. I got this from a few minutes Googling, not deep personal knowledge. Suffice it to say that he's a big supporter of the EU and its vision of replacing national governments. Note that the EU is currently trying to force Hungary to take migrants (not refugees), against the Hungarian government's will. So that's one reason they don't like him there.

I'm not even sure what the problem with legal abortion everywhere is

I have no problem with it. I used it as an example of the kinds of policies he funds. For instance, to try and change the politics of Ireland.

Again, "likely"... Likely why? What does he gain from migration policies?

Who knows? It seems to be something of an over-reaction to the Soviet Union, perhaps, but I wouldn't like to speculate without more research. However, if you go to the website of the OSF or look at what things Soros has funded, they're all very much in the area of highly controversial or even unpopular policies that have nothing to do with children but which frequently crop up on social media. The only thing visible on the OSF web page above the fold is about migration. So, I'm not surprised people might look for ulterior motives.

In your last paragraph you just argue with straw men. I haven't mentioned the Koch brothers, or even argued that rich men lobbying politicians is wrong. Just pointed out why some people don't like Soros.


> In your last paragraph you just argue with straw men. I haven't mentioned the Koch brothers, or even argued that rich men lobbying politicians is wrong. Just pointed out why some people don't like Soros.

The sixth hit for your Soros quote is Breitbart (most prior being googles own hits, and most following being glenn beck and other right wing "pundits"), which is almost entirely funded by Rebekah Mercer, previously Robert Mercer

I'm not questioning it's accuracy, only the motive for posting it.

Also relevant for the dailymail link:

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/daily-mail/

>> Again, "likely"... Likely why? What does he gain from migration policies?

> Who knows? It seems to be something of an over-reaction to the Soviet Union, perhaps, but I wouldn't like to speculate without more research.

And yet you did.

> Here are some quotes to show this is true

> "... we support local organizations and policymakers who are working to ensure vulnerable populations are protected, that migrants are empowered to contribute to host societies and home countries, and that migrant voices are heard."

Emphasis mine. I don't know what quote they got, or in what context they used it, but I know what you linked and their motives, and that I could find a charitable interpretation of the quote.


The first part of your reply is irrelevant smearing, isn't it? You don't dispute the accuracy or relevance of the quotes, but instead bring up websites on which they can be found in search engines, and then make vague handwaves about "motives" - as if this has any impact at all.

To be clear, although it's also irrelevant, my motive in this thread has been to explain the long since flagged and dead comment about why George Soros specifically is not the best person to call for strict regulation of tech firms.

I don't know what quote they got, or in what context they used it

Why don't you open the link I helpfully provided and find out then?

The relevant part of the quote is the part you removed: "We are committed to making sure that anyone who chooses to migrate—regardless of motivation—is able to do so safely and with dignity". This quote demonstrates my point that Soros supports the latter, and so your point that it's not equivalent to something else doesn't matter.


>> I don't know what quote they got, or in what context they used it

> Why don't you open the link I helpfully provided and find out then?

My point was that they're a terrible source for finding out what context they used when framing their own article, given their obvious slant.

> The first part of your reply is irrelevant smearing, isn't it? You don't dispute the accuracy or relevance of the quotes, but instead bring up websites on which they can be found in search engines, and then make vague handwaves about "motives" - as if this has any impact at all.

Another commenter had already specifically dissected that quote, so it felt redundant. And looking at the sites flagging for a problem with that quote WAS extremely telling.


But the quote was not part of the Daily Mail article itself. It was the official response from Open Society Foundations. The Mail is obligated to publish this response as is, not allowed to modify it or remove essential parts.


There are interests which transcend state boundaries: environmental pollution, fisheries management, maritime law, response to large-scale disasters, war crimes, slavery, human trafficking, resettlement of refugees, weapons of mass destruction, pandemic disease, ...

There already exist a variety of international organizations to tackle these in various ways, established by international treaties...

This does not by any means replace national government.


Let’s leave aside the question of what exactly are the intentions of Soros’s foundation. I happen to think that “promoting civil society and tolerance initiatives” is pretty much what it says on the tin, whereas you think it’s code for something more nefarious involving world government and importing millions of Africans into Europe. Fair enough — it’s not worth arguing about that.

My question is: do you really believe a $32B fund is nearly enough to enact the kind of change and influence that you’re attributing to Soros? It’s certainly a large personal fortune, but it doesn’t move the needle very much when you’re assuming that he’s actually buying out governments of dozens of countries.

A fund of that size would probably spend 1-2 billion yearly. (He’s not going to blow the entire 32 billion wad in one shot — otherwise, how does he bribe the politicians next year?)

So what does one get with a billion? Unfortunately most of the money spent by the foundations is publicly accounted for, in various boring things like grants to academic sociologists... So let’s assume that 20% of the money is used to buy influence. 200 million is not a lot to spend globally.

In comparison, the Hungarian government spent an estimated 20 million on their anti-Soros billboard campaign last year. They were basically plastering bus stops with large black&white posters of Soros, a wealthy old New York Jew. You may think that was a valuable public service announcement, but maybe you can also understand why people felt that spending public money on such posters was reminiscent of 1930s Europe.


No need to speculate. Wikipedia is quite helpful:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Society_Foundations

its founding in 1993, OSF has reported expenditures of over $11 billion

The Open Society Foundations reported annual expenditures of $827 million in 2014.[17] Its $873 million budget in 2013, ranked as the second largest private philanthropy budget in the United States, after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation budget of $3.9 billion

In 2017, Soros transferred $18 billion to the Foundation

It's fair to say that they're unlikely to be budget limited. Whether or not that's enough for Soros to achieve his goals is hard to say. I tend to think money has less impact in politics than many like to imagine. There are quite a few examples of lesser funded politicians beating much better funded politicians in elections e.g. Trump v Clinton.

But it doesn't have no impact either, that's for sure.

As for funding academic sociologists, well that's essentially the same as paying for lobbying. I don't think sociology is really a robust area of science: I've seen too many nonsensical papers and research results to believe it's much more than the researchers own opinions projected back at them. So by funding researchers who share Soros' world views, he gets a steady supply of "science" that can be used to sway policymakers.

maybe you can also understand why people felt that spending public money on such posters was reminiscent of 1930s Europe.

Oh look, you just implied people you disagree with might be Nazis. What a surprising and unexpected tactic that I never see these days at all.

The Hungarian government's beef with Soros is that he's rich, he supports the EU's efforts to take away Hungary's voting rights (i.e. making it formally a vassal state of the EU with no power in it at all), he funds political causes that the elected government opposes and so on. It has nothing to do with him being a Jew. This sort of debating tactic is crying wolf and I find myself already ignoring most accusations that someone or some group are "Nazis" because it's almost never true.


> As for funding academic sociologists, well that's essentially the same as paying for lobbying.

You greatly overestimate the influence of academics in present-day politics.

> The Hungarian government's beef with Soros is that he's rich, he supports the EU's efforts to take away Hungary's voting rights (i.e. making it formally a vassal state of the EU with no power in it at all), he funds political causes that the elected government opposes and so on. It has nothing to do with him being a Jew.

Come on. If he were a white guy from Kansas named Smith, the Hungarian government would just ignore him. He makes a highly convenient lighting rod for various nationalist angsts in Central Europe by filling the outlines of a centuries old stereotype.

The talk of Hungary becoming a vassal state is nonsense. When Hungary joined the EU, its government accepted a binding treaty to uphold certain values. The current government is free to walk away -- that same treaty contains a termination article which Britain is currently exercising. Of course Hungary doesn't actually want to leave the EU because they're major net winners both in terms of direct EU funding and in having access to the internal market.


>If he were a white guy from Kansas named Smith, the Hungarian government would just ignore him.

Now that is a ridiculous claim with no basis in reality.

If Kansas billionaire Smith spent huge sums trying to remove Hungary's national sovereignty and force policies down their throat that the population doesn't want, they'd dislike him almost as much.

The fact that Soros is originally Hungarian just adds insult to injury.


> he supports the EU's efforts to take away Hungary's voting rights (i.e. making it formally a vassal state of the EU with no power in it at all)

Do you have a source for that claim? I am member of the EU as well and wonder that I never heard that claim before. It sounds exaggerated to be blunt.


Breitbart, Orban, Kaczynski, Dragnea and friends hate him. He must at least be doing something decent.

He is smart, rich, old, and has an outspoken agenda. I have an opinion of him and his Open Society Foundation, but I'd rather keep that to myself.

Did you know that his OSF sponsored the battle against software patents in the EU?


>He has set up a fund with about 32 billion dollars in it, explicitly for the purpose of ensuring society follows his preferred path - one world government, open borders everywhere, EU replacing national governments, legal abortion everywhere, mass migration from Africa and so on.

What is the name of this fund?


It's in the Wikipedia page about Soros. It's called the Open Societies Foundation:

https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org


They're so devious that they publicly list every grant that they make.


He's a pal of the World Bank and IMF people, wants everything regulated by the government and governments regulated by suprastatal institutions such as the EU's, the WTO, the IMF. Soros is a sponsor of the Obama OfA, the anti-Trump campaign and other leftist causes. Hence the "Facebook can influence elections". Here's a more complete list of why:

http://humanevents.com/2011/04/02/top-10-reasons-george-soro...

I don't like Facebook, never had an account and have mixed feelings concerning Soros. He invested a lot of money in Eastern Europe that ultimately created a civil society (good) but also sparked leftist sentiment (no so good). I feel that over regulation and too powerful governments are ultimately bad for society. This isn't an open society, it's quite the opposite. The civil society and the ONG's are too fragmented and too dependent on outside financing to create the checks and balances required to keep governments and politicians from abusing power.


Never trust a article that starts with "10 reasons why..." Specially when it's posted on a website that praises Steve Bannon and one of the 4 content sections available is "Guns & Patriots"


I don't have to trust the site, since these facts are already well known. It's an article from 2011. Also I'm very familiar with the defunct Soros/OSF Foundations activity during the 90s and 2000s in my country and George Soros' own discourse. I used to read his articles before 2013, when the EU was all rosy.


Still, quoting far right websites with click-baity article titles kinda shatters your credibility...


Not even in the same league. Soros is a smart psychopath with far too much money. Google and others are existential systemic threats to humankind.

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