Facebook fined €110 million for 'misleading' European Union over WhatsApp takeover


Authorities in Europe fined Facebook $122 million for misleading officials about its ability to automatically combine data about its users with those of the messaging service WhatsApp.

The European Commission stated that the "proportionate" fine has been imposed to send a clear signal to all the firms that they must comply with EU competition rules.

The EC said it found out that contrary to statement made by Facebook in 2014 the technical possibility of matching automatically users' identities between Facebook and WhatsApp existed back in 2014 and the staff at Facebook had been aware of that possibility. Facebook, specialists say, is just the most recent in a long line of Silicon Valley organizations to face European administrative outrage, however this time, the focus is going to be majorly on the amount of online information accumulated, including data that Facebook gathers on both its clients and nonusers through external sites.

The European Commission said Facebook had informed its anti-trust body, in submissions ahead of the $19bn (£15.3bn) buyout, it would be unable to "establish reliable automated matching" between Facebook and WhatsApp user accounts. The Commission considered the infringements serious because they were prevented from having all relevant information for the assessment of the transaction. In a statement, Facebook claimed the errors were not intentional.

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "Today's 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".

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FB, of course, denies intentionally lying to the EC, and gave what is essentially the multi-billion dollar corporation's version of "oops, we didn't mean to".

The fine - one of the biggest administrative punishments against Facebook - comes days after Dutch and French security guard dogs decided that the organization had broken strict information assurance rules.

According to the annual turnover rule, Facebook earned $276m in 2016 - so the fine could have been a lot more.

Well at least, the commission confirmed it would not impact on the results of the merger review so Facebook only lost some money and hardly made a dent in its financial status for the quarter from the global view. Taking into account Facebook's cooperation with the Commission's investigation into the matter, by inter alia waiving its right to have an oral hearing, the Commission ultimately imposed a fine of Euro 110 million on Facebook.