The European Commission charged $122 million from Facebook for “providing incorrect or misleading information” about the social media application 2014 purchase of WhatsApp.
The Commission published a press release on Thursday where it said that Facebook misled European regulators with misinformation when it confirmed that it wouldn’t be capable of linking users’ profiles on WhatsApp and Facebook.
However, in 2016, WhatsApp declared that it would start sharing some of the users’ data with Facebook such as phone numbers.
Consequences of Facebook’s misleading information
“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 Commission stated.
In September 2016, Germany instructed the social app to completely stop gathering users’ data from WhatsApp. 2 months later, in November 2016, Facebook decided to drop collecting UK WhatsApp users’ data.
During this week, an Italian antitrust officials fined WhatsApp for €3 million for “inducing” its users to share information with Facebook. The EC started its investigation in December 2016.
“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,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager stated. “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.”
On Thursday, Facebook published a statement and said it “acted in good faith” during its relations with the European Commission, and that it “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,” the statement reads. “Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close.”