Facebook cops $122M fine from EU over WhatsApp acquisition

The social media giant provided misleading information during its 2014 merger with WhatsApp, the European Commission said.

Jaap Arriens, NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook has been fined by the European Commission for "providing misleading information" during its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp.

Facebook told the Commission at the time that there was no way for it to match a user's Facebook account with their WhatsApp account. Last August though, these accounts indeed became linked, and the Commission found that employees at Facebook were aware of this possibility back in 2014, leading to the company being fined 110 million euros, or about $122 million.

The social media giant's acquisition of WhatsApp was finalised in October of 2014 for $19 billion. The EU announced its investigation into Facebook last December.

"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," said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. "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."

In a statement posted to its site, Facebook said it "acted in good faith" in its interactions with the EU.

"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."

This isn't Facebook's only legal woe over in Europe. The Federation of German Consumer Organizations took exception to the company's August decision to share information between Facebook and WhatsApp, and has asked the Berlin county court for an injunction to stop the data sharing, and to force Facebook to delete any dataWhatsApp has given it.

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