Updated Feb 20, 2018

George Soros may invest more in fighting Big Tech

Billionaire George Soros. Photo: OLIVIER HOSLET/AFP/Getty Images

Billionaire investor George Soros launched a brutal attack on big online platform companies at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. Now, his influential organization is "certainly examining new ways" to tackle the growing power of tech giants, according to an official at his influential philanthropy.

Why it matters: Soros may put his money where his mouth is. With a global reach and an annual budget of more than a billion dollars, the Open Society Foundations has the ability to significantly shape the growing debate over the power of Big Tech.

What they’re saying: “The Open Society Foundations has long worked on issues involving the free and democratic flow of information and the ways in which a concentration of power can affect knowledge and communication,” Open Society Foundations acting Co-Director of U.S. Programs Laleh Ispahani said in a statement to Axios. “Mr. Soros’s speech reflected rising concern about the effects of a handful of giant internet platforms having so much influence, and we’re certainly examining new ways we might address those concerns in ongoing conversations not just in the U.S. but among our foundation colleagues globally.”

  • Soros has been on a tear against the web platforms lately. "The rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant American Internet platform companies is contributing mightily to the US government’s impotence," he wrote in a recent op-ed that predicted that regulatory action in the European Union will be their "undoing."

What they’re doing: The organization didn’t provide details of their current conversations. A spokesman said that it provided a $180,000 two-year grant to the Open Markets Institute last fall for work around web platforms.

  • The organization's interest in platforms has been building for some time. It gave the group Data & Society $250,000 in 2016 for "reimagining pathways for algorithmic accountability of platforms and organizations that produce and distribute content, such as search and recommendation engines and social media."
  • Open Society Foundations has weighed in on issues like net neutrality and surveillance.

Go deeper: Interest in this topic is rising among wealthy individuals who can use their philanthropic organizations to influence the conversation.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 a.m. ET: 1,431,375 — Total deaths: 82,145 — Total recoveries: 301,543Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 a.m. ET: 399,886 — Total deaths: 12,910 — Total recoveries: 22,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Trump said he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning that the crisis could kill more than half a million Americans.
  4. States latest: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is confident that more than 200 million masks will be delivered to the state "at a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks."
  5. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  6. World updates: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  7. 2020 latest: Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13. Thousands of residents cast ballots in person.
  8. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Tariff worries hit record high amid coronavirus outbreak

Data: CivicScience, margin of error ±1 percentage points; Chart: Axios Visuals

Concern about President Trump's tariffs on U.S imports grew to record high levels among Americans last month, particularly as more lost their jobs and concern about the novel coronavirus increased.

Driving the news: About seven in 10 people said they were at least somewhat concerned about tariffs in March, according to the latest survey from CivicScience provided first to Axios.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Largest 24-hour spike in fatalities

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll from the novel coronavirus surged to its highest one-day total on Tuesday, as the U.S. saw its largest 24-hour spike in fatalities, per Johns Hopkins data. Recorded deaths across the U.S. surpassed 12,900 early Wednesday.

Why it matters: State officials have stressed that lockdowns must continue even if cities begin to see slight improvements from social distancing. Several hot spots, including New York, New Orleans, and Detroit, are expected to peak in the coming days.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health