Facebook Fined $122 Million for Misleading EU Regulators Over WhatsApp Deal

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The European Commission has fined Facebook $122 million for misleading regulators over its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp. The announcement came on Thursday in a press release in which the Commission said that the social media company had provided "incorrect or misleading information" when it told regulators that it would be unable to link the profiles of users on WhatsApp and Facebook.

However, WhatsApp announced in 2016 that it would start sharing some user data, including phone numbers, with Facebook, contradicting the earlier claim. In its press release, the Commission said that Facebook knew the data crossover was technically feasible in 2014 when it bought WhatsApp for $22 billion, but that it had stated otherwise when asked by merger regulators.

"When Facebook notified the acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014, it informed the Commission that it would be unable to establish reliable automated matching between Facebook users' accounts and WhatsApp users' accounts. It stated this both in the notification form and in a reply to a request of information from the Commission. 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.

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 ruling by the Commission will not have any impact on its decision to rubber stamp the acquisition, and remains separate from data protection investigations that are currently ongoing, the EC explained in the press release. The separate investigations involve historical data collection of WhatsApp users in Germany, the U.K., and Italy. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said:

"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. The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers' effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts."

Facebook responded to the decision in a statement published on its website on Thursday. The company said it had "acted in good faith" during its communications with the EC, and claimed that it had attempted 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," the statement reads. "Today's announcement brings this matter to a close."

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41 months ago
122 millions is not enough. Lying is in the DNA of Facebook. It has even been admitted by Zuckerberg once during a shareholders reunion ( and there's a transcript of that on the net) that he believes "privacy is a thing of the past" and his strategy will be to break privacy promises as often as possible, because of you're caught you can just say "Sorry, i won't do it again", and people will forget about it after a while, then you can do it again.

Facebook thinks it's too big to fail, therefore there is no reason for them not to break as many laws as they can.

122 millions is like a drop on the ocean. Facebook WILL do it again.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago
122 million? Chump change and does nothing to deter other companies from doing the same. Facebook chalks this paltry amount up as the cost of doing business. In 2016 they had revenue of 27 billion, so that 122 million is only 0.0452% of that 27 billion.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago
122 million is nothing compared to the 22 billion they bought it for....

calculated risk? in the end they still got what they wanted.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago
"We want a pile of money from Facebook... This high!"

Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago

I remember Telegram was supposed to be the best alternative but at least in my network it didn't take off, not that I'm considering leaving What's app though.

Agreed, and last year I was able to convince my family to switch to it. My office tried slack, hangouts, and then I suggested Telegram - they all love it. So I've got a pretty big group using Telegram - I like it - it's only had one 2 hour outage for me and pictures/videos don't load as fast as they used to. What makes it great - it's cross platform. Android, Mac, Windows, Chrome, iPhone, etc... Very few messengers have desktop apps anymore.

Sadly, almost everyone I meet (not in my family/work circle) prefers Facebook Messenger or GroupMe or something like that. WhatsApp has/had? a big following in Europe and South America.

Don't get me started on why Google decided to kill Hangouts - used that for years and years (from Google Talk). :( Allo has no desktop replacement... WTF?!


How many of us, if we were in the shoes of WhatsApp's original owners, would turn down that $$$? I imagine it's a lot easier said than done.

I can't stand Facebook.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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41 months ago
That lying Zuckerberg. I deleted Facebook years ago. It's sick having read clickbait all day. Unoriginal content and people complaining or pretending.

Instagram is good for prostitutes to advertise the "product". Post a bikini pic and thousands of orbiters will like.
At least there's more original content and pics. People don't want to read poems!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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