Davos: Billionaire George Soros accused Facebook of working to get Donald Trump re-elected, said the US president was overheating the economy and warned that nationalism was making further inroads, citing developments in India, besides decrying Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s authoritarianism.

Soros said he will commit $1 billion to start a global university to fight authoritarian governments and climate change, calling them twin challenges that threaten the survival of our civilisation.

“I think there is a kind of informal mutual assistance operation or agreement developing between Trump and Facebook,” Soros, 89, said on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Facebook will work together to re-elect Trump, and Trump will work to protect Facebook so that this situation cannot be changed and it makes me very concerned about the outcome for 2020.”

Facebook has faced increased scrutiny from governments worldwide on multiple fronts, but especially related to the Russian misinformation campaign that ran undetected on the social network in the months prior to the 2016 US election.

Soros has used his annual Davos speech as a platform to criticise the social media giant in the past. In 2018, he compared Facebook to a gambling company that fosters addiction among users, and last year reiterated the need to regulate technology firms.

“Facebook basically has only one guiding principle: maximise your profits irrespective of what harm it may do to the world,” Soros said on Thursday.

Soros also referred to protests in India over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as well as Kashmir.

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“Nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway,” he said. The biggest and “most frightening setback” was in India “where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship.”

The billionaire also expressed alarm over Xi, who he said had broken with Communist Party tradition by concentrating power around himself, with the Chinese economy losing its previous flexibility.

While Xi Jinping “became a dictator as soon as he gained sufficient strength” his “success is far from assured” as demographics caused by the one-child policy work against China.

President Trump’s economic team is overheating the economy, Soros said.

“An overheated economy can’t be kept boiling for too long,” he said. “If all this had happened closer to the elections, it would have assured his re-election. His problem is that the elections are still 10 months away and in a revolutionary situation, that is a lifetime.”

He said the US President was a “con man and the ultimate narcissist.” Bloomberg | AFP



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