Facebook Fined $122 Million By EU For Providing Misleading Information During WhatsApp Acquisition

Facebook has been fined $122 million by the European Commission for misleading the EU regulators with incorrect information when it acquired WhatsApp in 2014. Back then, Facebook had said that it won’t be able to link the profiles of users on WhatsApp and Facebook.

However, last year, Facebook announced that it would be sharing some data of WhatsApp users with Facebook, which goes against the claims it had made during the acquisition. It notes that matching Facebook and WhatApp users’ identities was technically already possible in 2014, with Facebook staff already being aware of it.

The EU Merger Regulation requires companies to provide correct information during mergers and takeovers irrespective of what the final outcome is going to be.

Today’s decision has no impact on the Commission’s October 2014 decision to authorise the transaction under the EU Merger Regulation. Indeed, the clearance decision was based on a number of elements going beyond automated user matching. The Commission at the time also carried out an ‘even if’ assessment that assumed user matching as a possibility. The Commission therefore considers that, albeit relevant, the incorrect or misleading information provided by Facebook did not have an impact on the outcome of the clearance decision.

The EU says that Facebook committed two separate infringements by providing incorrect and misleading information, which it considers serious.

In its statement, Facebook says that it acted in “good faith” since its very “first interactions with the Commission” and has aimed at providing it with accurate information at every turn. Further, the errors made by the company made in its 2014 filing were not intentional and they would not have impacted the final outcome of the merger review from EU as well.

[Via European Commission]

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