Social networks serve as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people: Former Google CEO

"Unless the industry gets its act together, there will be regulations," he said

google-israel-office-reuters-1 File photo | Reuters

Amid the hullabaloo over the anti-trust suit filed against tech giant Google, the company's former CEO Eric Schmidt said that social networks serve as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people. According to a report in Bloomberg, Schmidt, who is still a majority shareholder of Alphabet Inc, said: "The context of social networks serving as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people is not what we intended. Unless the industry gets its act together in a really clever way, there will be regulation." He added that the anti-trust suit filed by the US government may be misplaced, but regulations could be in order.

Earlier, the US Justice Department had sued Google for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising—the government's most significant attempt to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago. And it could just be an opening salvo. Other major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook are under investigation at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

"Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth," US Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told reporters. "It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition." Lawmakers and consumer advocates have long accused Google of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising. The case filed in federal court in Washington, DC, alleges that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisers to pay phone manufacturers to ensure Google is the default search engine on browsers.

That stifles competition and innovation from smaller upstart rivals to Google and harms consumers by reducing the quality of search and limiting privacy protections and alternative search options, the government alleges. Critics contend that multibillion-dollar fines and mandated changes in Google's practices imposed by European regulators in recent years weren't severe enough and that structural changes are needed for Google to change its conduct.

The lawsuit didn't lay out specific remedies, although it asked the court to order structural relief "as needed to remedy any anti-competitive harm." That opens the door to possible fundamental changes such as a spinoff of the company's Chrome browser.

-Inputs from agencies