Facebook fined for providing false information

The European Commission said that the social media company inaccurately claimed it would be unable to combine user data between the two companies' accounts.
By Ian Marsh | May 19, 2017
Facebook has been fined $123 million dollars after the European Union's anti-trust watchdog said it provided "incorrect and misleading" information concerning its $19 billion takeover of Whatsapp.

The European Commission said that the social media company inaccurately claimed it would be unable to combine user data between the two companies' accounts.

"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 the Facebook staff was aware of such a possibility," the commission said.

The commission added that the ruling would not affect its decision to approve the merger.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager who had recently probed the tax affairs of several high-profile companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google described the sanction as "proportionate and deterrent."

Vestager said that the commission's decision would send a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all the aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information.

She added that the commission must be in a position to make decisions about the effects of mergers in full knowledge of accurate facts.

The commission has the power to fine a company as much as 1 percent of its global turnover.

In Facebook's case, the amount could have hit $276 million, based on its 2016 revenue.

In March, Vestager told a news conference that several companies might have provided misleading information when they sought approval for their mergers.

The latest sanctions come hot on the heels of a 150,000 Euro ($167,000) fine that was handed Tuesday to Facebook for failing to stop its users' data being accessed by advertisers.

 

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