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E.U fines Facebook over WhatsApp deal

The European Commission on Thursday has fined social media giant Facebook, for 110 million euros ($120 million) due to misleading information provided by the company on its $19 billion purchase of instant messaging app WhatsApp in 2o14.

The EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager who issued the sanction said in a statement, “the commission must be able to take decisions about mergers’ effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts.”

“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.
Facebook in a response said that it had cooperated with the Commission.

Facebook Founder-
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook in a response said that it had cooperated with the Commission.

“We’ve acted in good faith since our very first interactions with the Commission and we’ve sought to provide accurate information at every turn,”

“The errors we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional and the Commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcome of the merger review.

EU regulators had approved Facebook’s possession of WhatsApp in 2014 believing it would moderate competition in the growing social media sector.

It noted that when Facebook notified the Commission of the acquisition in 2014, the company had said it would “be unable to establish reliable automated matching between Facebook users’ accounts and WhatsApp users’ accounts”.

“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.

And “After launching a probe last year, the Commission “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’s spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said the fine would have been less of Facebook had cooperated with the rules.

He said the “highest fine ever” imposed by the commission for breaches linked to a merger and would serve as warning to others.

 

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Solomon Obende
Solomon Obende is a graduate of Public Administration from the prestigious Ambrose Alli University who is passionate about communications for development. He is proficient in crafting effective social media strategies. He listens to Jimmy Cliff's songs daily.

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