Facebook fined $120m over WhatsApp deal

Facebook fined $120m over WhatsApp deal

Facebook fined $120m over WhatsApp deal

Facebook has been fined Euro 110 million by the European Commission, for providing misleading information when it acquired WhatsApp, in 2014.

Facebook had assured during the 2014 Brussels survey to buy WhatsApp "that it was unable to automatically and reliably link the user accounts of the two companies", a fact which the Commission explains "Take note" to give its approval to the business.

Facebook said the announcement of the fine "brings this matter to a close". The commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcome of the merger review.

Given the apparent inconsistency with the information provided, the Commission made a decision to investigate and concluded after a preliminary investigation that in fact the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users had existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility.

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Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the decision "sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of European Union merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information".

"On the basis of these factors, the Commission has concluded that an overall fine of €110 million is both proportionate and deterrent".

The Commission could have fined Facebook up to 1 percent of its turnover - which would have been $276 million based on 2016 results - but said that Facebook had cooperated with the proceedings and acknowledged its infringement.

In 2002, a European energy company was fined Euro 35.000 for omitting to disclose important co-operation arrangements and to identify affected markets, and because it had provided misleading information on the competitive situation on other markets.

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According to European Union merger regulation, the EC can impose a fine totalling 1 per cent of a company's aggregated turnover if it has provided misleading or incorrect information.

In 1999, a German postal operator was fined Euro 100.000 for supplying incorrect and misleading information in a notification and inaccurate information in response to a request for information (RFI). Facebook accepted the Commission's findings, waiving its right to access the file and request an oral hearing and opting to cooperate with the Commission's investigation.

The Facebook/WhatsApp merger case In August 2014, Facebook, which is active in social networking, consumer communications and online non-search advertising services, notified the Commission of its plans to acquire the consumer communications services provider WhatsApp.

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