Bill Gates doesn't think big tech companies should be broken up

It's better to regulate them, he says.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
Bill Gates

Bill Gates says breaking up big tech companies may not be the best idea. 

Getty Images

With the US government opening an antitrust review of big tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said in a Bloomberg interview published Tuesday that it's better to regulate the giants than to break them up.  

"If there's a way the company is behaving that you want to get rid of, then you should just say, 'OK, that's a banned behavior,'" Gates said. "Splitting the company in two and having two people doing the bad thing -- that doesn't seem like a solution."

He added that these companies are "behaving totally legally." Nobody knew early on that social media, for example, could serve as a platform for radicalizing people or splitting them into different groups, he said. Gates added that he doesn't think we can rely solely on the tech industry to come up with solutions and that the government needs to discuss what the rules should be. 

"It's not, you could say, unbiased, but I see these as well-meaning, highly-innovative companies," he said. "It's up to society to make sure that their innovation doesn't have negative side effects."

Gates is no stranger to antitrust investigations. Microsoft was caught in a battle with the US government in the 1990s for bundling Internet Explorer into Windows, allegedly giving its own browser an unfair advantage over competitors like Netscape's Navigator. Microsoft ultimately avoided being split into two.