In a press release published Thursday, The Commission said that the social media company misinformed European regulator when it said that it would be unable to link the profile of users on WhatsApp and Facebook. In 2016, however, WhatsApp announced that it would begin sharing some user data with facebook, including phone numbers, with Facebook. In its decision, the Commission authority said that “the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibilities.”
The decision announced today will not have any impacts on the Commission’s decision to authorize the acquisitions, and it is not related to separate data protection investigation that are currently underway, the EC said in its press releases. Germany ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users in September 2016, and Facebook agreed to suspend data collections on UK WhatsApp users in November of that year. This week, WhatsApp was fined €3 million by Italian antitrust authority for “inducing” users to share data with Facebook Inc. The EC announced its investigations in December 2016.
“Today’s decisions sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rule, including the obligation to provide correct informations,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statements. “And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook. The Commissions must be able to take decisions about merger’ effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate fact.”
In a statement published to its websites Thursday, Facebook said it “acted in good faith” during its interaction with the European Commission, and that it “sought to provide accurate information at every turn.” The social network’s acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion Dollars.
“The error we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional and the Commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcomes of the merger review,” the statement reads. “Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close.”
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