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Facebook fined $94m for providing misleading information on WhatsApp merger

Facebook fined $94m for providing misleading information on WhatsApp merger

Facebook Accused of Misleading EU in WhatsApp Takeover ProbeThe European Commission on Thursday fined U.S. social media giant Facebook 110 million euros ($120 million) for providing incorrect and misleading information on its takeover of WhatsApp, imposing its biggest penalty for such a breach.

When Facebook took over WhatsApp 3 years back, it informed the commission that it won't be able to match the user accounts on both platforms. "Today's announcement closes the case", he added.

"However, in August 2016, WhatsApp announced updates to its terms of service and privacy policy, including the possibility of linking WhatsApp users' phone numbers with Facebook users' identities", it said.

At the time of the acquisition, Facebook told European Commission (EC) competition monitors that it was not technically possible to automatically link WhatsApp user data with Facebook profiles but this later transpired to be incorrect information that Facebook staff had knowingly handed over, Efe news reported.

"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", the report quoted the European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager as saying.




"And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook". "The mistake we made in the documents we gave in 2014 was not appropriate and the Commission confirmed that this had no effect on the outcome of the merger examination", said Facebook spokesman Alend Williams at the French Agency.

The Commission said Thursday's decision and the fine would have no impact on its October 2014 clearance of the deal.

Officials said the penalty was being imposed after the social network was found to have given "incorrect or misleading" information in 2014. As a result, it has often led to allegations by tech companies that the region has a lot of anti-American sentiment and bias during investigations which may be true, but is usually denied by European policymakers.

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 said in response that it cooperated with the Commission. The firm has also this week been fined a tiny Euro 150,000 by a French data watchdog for failing to prevent advertisers from accessing user data, and WhatsApp was last week slapped with a Euro 3m levy by Italian antitrust authorities for reportedly requiring users to agree to share their personal data with its parent firm.


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