Facebook has been fined €110 million by European regulators relating to its acquisition of WhatsApp and the European Commission has said that the company provided misleading information during the acquisition.
When Facebook took over WhatsApp the company said that WhatsApp data would not be shared with Facebook, they then changed this in 2016 when WhatsApp updated its terms of service.
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. The Commission considers that these infringements are serious because they prevented it from having all relevant information for the assessment of the transaction.
Moreover, the Commission considers that Facebook staff were aware of the user matching possibility and that Facebook was aware of the relevance of user matching for the Commission’s assessment, and of its obligations under the Merger Regulation. Therefore, Facebook’s breach of procedural obligations was at least negligent. The Commission has also considered the existence of mitigating circumstances, notably the fact that Facebook cooperated with the Commission during the procedural infringement proceedings. In particular, in its reply to the Commission’s Statement of Objections, Facebook 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. The Commission has taken Facebook’s cooperation into account in setting the level of the fine.
You can find out more about the ruling by the European Commission at the link below, as yet there are no details on whether Facebook will appeal the decision.
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