One of the richest men in the world, the Hungarian-American mega-investor George Soros often has his name involved in cases of misinformation. Much of the content is conspiracy theory and has an anti-Semitic background.
Posts have already lied stating that he was arrested in the United States, accused of interfering in the presidential electionsthat he would be a former Nazi and that he would be the leader behind social movements like Black Lives Matter. The most recent theory is that he commands Brazilian government decisions related to the Amazon.
A section Comprova Explains, from the Comprova Projectsheds light on the life and work of George Soros, as well as the investments that the billionaire makes in different organizations and causes.
Who is George Soros
A 92-year-old billionaire, Soros was born in 1930 in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. From a Jewish family, he survived the Nazi occupation in his home country. At 17, he moved to England, where attended college and then post-graduate at the London School of Economics.
He emigrated to the United States in 1956 and, in 1970, created an investment fund that became known for its short-term speculation in the financial market. The investment fund made Soros one of the richest men in the world. He currently appears in the list of forbes billionaireswith an estimated fortune of US$ 6.7 billion.
Soros became known in 1992 as the “man who broke the bank of england.” That year, he bet against the British pound, one of the most important currencies in the world. He borrowed $5 billion in foreign currency and sold it. Afterwards, he repurchased the same amount of the currency, already devalued, profiting US$ 1 billion with the operation.
Soros is also accused of provoking a financial crisis in Asia in 1997 by selling the Thai and Malaysian currencies, signaling to the market that they were overvalued. The repercussions of the crisis had consequences in Brazil.
It was because of that fact that the circuit breaker mechanism, which interrupts trading on the stock exchange when there is a 10% drop in the stock index, was implemented by Bovespa (currently B3).
Soros and the Open Society Foundation
George Soros’ philanthropic work is primarily done through the Open Society Foundation, which he created in the late 1970s. the organization’s websitethe foundation is “the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance and human rights”.
The organization’s early work consisted of funding scholarships for black students during the apartheid period in South Africa. After the end of the Cold War, the work of the Open Society was expanded to other continents and today it reaches 120 countries, including Brazil.
The foundation criticizes the war on drugs as “arguably more harmful than the drug problem itself” and helped kick-start the medical marijuana movement in the United States. In the early 2000s, he advocated for same-sex marriage.
In 2021, the most recent data available on the institution’s website, the Open Society claims to have invested US$ 1.5 billion in various causes around the world. In all, he says he has already distributed US$ 18 billion in donations and funding.
Soros made his fortune from financial speculation and much is said about his investments, but most of its shares are not in well-known companies, as stated by Valor Econômico. Among the most recent mega-investments by the George Soros fund are Horizon Therapeutics, in the biopharmaceutical field, and First Horizon National Corporation, a bank holding company, according to Reuters. From the first group alone, 2.9 million shares were purchased, equivalent to US$ 325.3 million in updated values as of February this year.
O 13F document, filed by the investor with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC, the US financial market regulator), shows Soros’ investments on March 31 of this year. One of the companies where he has the most shares is the electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive, known for supplying electric vans to Amazon.
In some disinformation content, his name appears linked to Petrobras, but, as Comprova has already verified, claiming that he has control over the company is misleading. In fact, Soros owned shares in Petrobras, but he sold them and has not had any since 2016.
With his international network of philanthropy, Soros is one of the main funders of the North American Democratic Party. In the 2022 elections, he transferred $170 million from his personal fortune to Democratic candidates, according to the American newspaper CNBC through the tycoon’s income tax. According to the same publication, he made other donations to non-governmental organizations that promote the registration of voters, mainly from minorities, for elections, which is a banner of the Democratic party. In Brazil, it supports projects such as Public Agency and the Sou da Paz Institute. On the organization’s website, you can access the complete list of institutions and initiatives benefiting from donations.
The billionaire’s name is often associated with conspiracy theories around the world, mainly promoted by the extreme right and, in general, of an anti-Semitic nature. Soros has been wrongly accused of promoting “migratory crisis in Europe and the United States, to be an ex-Nazi fighter and participating in groups such as the Freemasons and the Illuminati.
In Brazil, a rumor circulated that Soros would finance the PSOL. The piece of misinformation was shared by former Minister Ciro Gomes (PDT), at the time a presidential candidate, during a debate in 2022. Following the decision of the Superior Electoral CourtCiro was forced to delete the video in which he made that statement.
In 2018, also during the presidential campaign, false information circulated that Soros was financing the #EleNão movement, contrary to the then candidate Jair Bolsonaro (PL), through Mídia Ninja. Comprova demonstrated that the information was false.
In May of this year, Soros was attacked by Elon Musk days after selling his Tesla stake. Musk compared Soros to the villain Magneto (from Marvel), who survived the Holocaust, according to the comics. “He wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity,” Musk responded to a Twitter user.
Researcher in the field of disinformation and PhD in Communication, professor at Unisinos Taís Seibt explains that it is a characteristic of some conspiracy theories to mention alleged secret plans financed by people with a lot of money.
In the case of Soros, as well as that of Bill Gates, the execution of the “secret” project would be possible because they are billionaires. “The two figures represent that economic power that would be able, using a very conspiratorial term, to buy the system to get the result they want”, she says. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump and his supporters repeatedly denounced the “globalism“, supposedly dark union between the powerful, the press, banks and governments against the people and for their own benefit.
Seibt clarifies that one of the dangers of conspiracy theories is that they stir passions and sensations, such as fear of some unknown threat. “They bring up a polarized issue, which causes content to be promoted on social networks within the so-called bubbles. The more people visit that space, the more content of that type is recommended, causing, in addition to viralization, a reverberation that ends up strengthening groups more accustomed to certain thoughts.”
One tip from the researcher for not falling into conspiracy theories is to be wary of very alarmist content. “There is a trap here, because these theories are based on discrediting the press and institutions, saying that there is something going on and they are not showing it. But start there: if the publication goes down that path, that the press manipulates, be suspicious “, guide.
How do we check
We searched the websites of the professional press in Brazil and abroad about the life and trajectory of George Soros. We also looked for information on the website of the entrepreneur and the foundation created by him. We also interviewed the PhD in Communication Taís Seibt, who is a researcher at the Sejam Sabendo agency.
why do we explain
George Soros is constantly at the center of conspiracy theories, notably spread by far-right groups and with anti-Semitic characteristics. Lack of knowledge about the life and work of Soros and the Open Society Foundation leads to false judgments, and, regardless of what one believes, opinions must be based on correct information, not misinformation.
Other checks on the topic
Comprova has already done several checks related to the name of George Soros. One of them denied that the billionaire was responsible for financing the #EleNão movementagainst the election of former President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, and who conspired with other candidates to knock him out of the race. sera too does not employ the former president of the Partido Novo, João Amoêdo, nor is it a majority shareholder of Petrobras.
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