The European Commission has slapped Facebook with a massive $122 million fine after the company purportedly provided “incorrect or misleading” information for its WhatsApp acquisition. The decision goes back to an investigation under the EU Merger Regulation dating back to 2014.
The Commission further claims that – contrary to what Facebook stated during the initial investigation – “the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities already existed” and was known to company technicians back in 2014.
“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. And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
“The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers’ effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts,” she continued.
Regardless of the fine, the Commission clarified the penalty has no impact on the merger authorization it granted to Facebook following the 2014 investigation.
The move marks the first time the Commission has imposed a fine on a company since the Merger Regulation was originally introduced in 2004.
Earlier this week, the French Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) fined Facebook €150,000 for violating its national Data Protection Act.