European Commission comes down hard on Facebook, slaps social media giant with 110 million euros fine
San Diego Sun - Friday 19th May, 2017
EU said Facebook provided ‘incorrect or misleading’ information during WhatsApp acquisition
Commission said technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities existed
Facebook said the errors it had made were not intentional
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission on Thursday slapped Facebook with heavy fines for providing "incorrect or misleading" information during its acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.
Imposing a whopping 110 million euros ($122.5 million) fine on the popular social media giant, the Executive's Competition Commission said that during the merge review process in 2014, Facebook had said it could not automatically match user accounts on its own platform and WhatsApp.
In a statement, the EU has now 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."
In its argument, Facebook has stated that the errors it had made were not intentional.
The EU however, clarified that the fine would not reverse its decision to clear the $22 billion purchase of WhatsApp.
It said that while Facebook "committed two separate infringements by providing incorrect and misleading information in the merger notification form and in the reply to a Commission request for information" it also "acknowledged its infringement of the rules and waived its procedural rights to have access to the file and to an oral hearing. This allowed the Commission to conduct the investigation more efficiently."
In a statement, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager 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. The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers' effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts."
Meanwhile, Facebook said in a statement, "We've acted in good faith since our very first interactions with the Commission and we've sought to provide accurate information at every turn. The errors we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional and the Commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcome of the merger review. Today's announcement brings this matter to a close."
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