The EU Commission fined today Facebook €110 million for providing misleading information to antitrust regulators when seeking approval to buy WhatsApp in 2014.
In a statement, the Commission said: “The Commission has found that, contrary to Facebook’s statements in the 2014 merger review process, 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.”
However, it added that the fine would not reverse its decision to clear the $19bn purchase of WhatsApp and was unrelated to separate investigations into data protection issues.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “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.
Facebook said in a statement the errors made in its 2014 filings were not intentional and that the Commission had confirmed they had not affected the outcome of the merger review.
“Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close,” Facebook said.
The Commission could have fined Facebook up to 1 % 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.
The EU sanction comes after Facebook received a separate 150,000-euro fine on Tuesday by a French data watchdog for failing to prevent its users’ data being accessed by advertisers.
Last week the Italian antitrust authorities levied a 3 million-euro fine on WhatsApp for allegedly obliging users to agree to share their personal data with Facebook.