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Facebook is about to get slammed by US populist backlash, says early Uber investor Calacanis

  • In Europe, Apple, Google and Amazon are all facing crackdowns over issues such as taxes and monopoly.
  • "[T]he population is saying, 'If you can't give us health care, why should you be getting these crazy tax breaks?'" Jason Calacanis said.
  • Calacanis has several media ventures and is no stranger to going up against online advertising giants.

A growing global populist movement will continue to generate backlash against big tech companies, according to technology investor Jason Calacanis.

In Europe, for instance, Apple, Google and Amazon are all facing crackdowns over issues such as taxes and monopoly.

Under President Donald Trump, who campaigned on populist ideals, the U.S. government could eventually take similar action, Calacanis told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Wednesday.

Facebook, for example, has already been accused of being "anti-Trump," and is working with Congress over Facebook's influence in Trump's election. Uber, in which Calacanis is an investor, has also faced regulatory probes in the U.S. and across the world.

"People played by the rules, but the rules now changed," Calacanis said.

In reference to Facebook's billion-dollar acquisitions, he added: "It's part of the populist movement, and we're going to see that populist movement come here, to the United States. If you're in the technology business, pay your taxes and don't expect to buy up Instagram and WhatsApp and have it just sail through the FTC and the DOJ anymore, because the population is saying, 'If you can't give us health care, why should you be getting these crazy tax breaks?'"

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made a plan to address the accusations, arguing that Facebook empowers more people to have a voice, in line with populist agendas. Zuckerberg has also toured the country this year to meet more of his users, a jaunt many have compared to a presidential campaign.

But Calacanis — one of 2 billion people who use Facebook each month — said his experience with the company has made him question whether Facebook is trustworthy. He said users should have more power to opt out of tracking.

"Facebook has a track record of being the least trustworthy company in Silicon Valley," Calacanis said. "They can ban ads for affiliates of Amazon, but they can't figure out how to ban racist ads? .... It's complete nonsense. They should not have been allowed to buy WhatsApp or Instagram if they're not going to take their power seriously."

Calacanis has several media ventures and is no stranger to going up against online advertising giants. One of his ventures, Mahalo, was stymied in the early 2010s by changes to Google's algorithm.

Calacanis has compared his past beef with Google to the way publishers interact with social media today. He currently runs Inside.com, which offers email newsletters that are often sponsored.

"Everyone was beholden to Google for SEO and then the Huffington Post and everybody became beholden to social networks," he told Recode earlier this year. "It's really perverted the nature of the news business. I think email cuts out all these middlemen."



"This company has to be regulated," Calacanis said. "You cannot trust Zuckerberg."

Facebook declined to comment on Calacanis' remarks.

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