French President Compares Facebook and Google to Oil Barons

Photo by Gouvernement français via Wikimedia Commons

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Google and Facebook are “too big to be governed.” He compared to the dominance of these web giants to that of the oil barons during the early 20th century, saying that they may have to be dismantled.

The comments of the French president are considered to be among the most forceful from a Western leader regarding the subject of the growing influence of the two companies, which is coming under heightened scrutiny from regulators.

Macron informed Wired magazine: “At a point of time, your government, your people, may say: ‘Wake up. They are too big’.

“Not just too big to fail, but too big to be governed. Which is brand new.”

Macron added that governments might decide to break up the companies, stating: “At this point, you may choose to dismantle. That’s what happened at the very beginning of the oil sector when you had these big giants. That’s a competition issue.”

The French President added that the companies were facing repeated claims that they do not pay sufficient taxes in Europe and a “very classical issue in a monopoly situation.”

Macron has sought to adopt a business-friendly attitude since his victory during the 2017 election. He is seeking to help Paris wrestle away the crown of London as the technology hub of Europe and embarking on a new plan to make France a world leader in artificial intelligence.

However, his most recent comments are likely to fire up claims that Europe remains to be hostile to Silicon Valley. Macron insisted that he would still welcome investment from the companies, who have established AI research centres in France.

Paris has become a destination for machine learning research. Last week, Macron revealed a €1.5bn (£1.3bn) investment on artificial intelligence over the course of his term, which will run until 2022. It comes amid concerns that Europe is falling behind China and the United States when it comes to the development of AI.