Facebook fined £95m by EU over Whatsapp merger

Conor Coyle Sharecast | 18 May, 2017 12:32 | | |

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The EU's executive branch has continued its crackdown on US tech firms after fining Facebook €110m (£95m) for providing misleading information during its acquisition of popular messaging app Whatsapp in 2014.

The European Commission found that Facebook had broken an agreement it made during the merger which meant that the social network and messaging app could not match user accounts.

Facebook announced in August of last year that it was altering its privacy policy so that it would include the ability of linking users' social media profile and phone numbers through Whatsapp.

Vestager's office has taken a tough stance on mergers and acquisitions in the past

"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,” the Commission said.

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that this action amounted to misleading information on the social media company’s part.

"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,” Vestager said.

Vestager's office has taken a tough stance on mergers and acquisitions in the past, as well as other cases involving US companies, such as Apple.

The iPhone maker was ordered to pay back €13bn to the Irish government after the Commission found that it had underpaid taxes to the state for years.

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