Facebook was fined €110 million for misleading EU regulators over its WhatsApp deal

Mark zuckerberg facebook ceo f8 paper letters happyJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017 at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.

Facebook was fined €110 million (£100 million) by the European Commission for providing misleading information to antitrust regulators when seeking approval to buy WhatsApp in 2014.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Today’s decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information.”

“And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook,” she said. “The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers’ effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts.”

The Commission said Facebook claimed it would not be able to match Facebook users’ accounts and WhatsApp users’ accounts automatically.

But in August 2016, “WhatsApp announced updates to its terms of service and privacy policy, including the possibility of linking WhatsApp users’ phone numbers with Facebook users’ identities,” the commission said.

“The Commission has found that, contrary to Facebook’s statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility,” the EU body said.

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