Facebook fined $122 million by EU for ‘misleading information’ about WhatsApp acquisition

May 18, 2017 · theverge.com

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The European Commission has fined Facebook €110 million ($122 million) for "providing incorrect or misleading information" about its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp.

In a press release published Thursday, the Commission said that the social media company misinformed European regulators when it said that it would be unable to link the profiles of users on WhatsApp and Facebook. In 2016, however, WhatsApp announced that it would begin sharing some user data, including phone numbers, with Facebook. In its decision, the Commission said that "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 decision announced today will not have any impact on the Commission’s decision to authorize the acquisition, and it is not related to separate data protection investigations that are currently underway, the EC said in its press release. Germany ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users in September 2016, and Facebook agreed to suspend data collection on UK WhatsApp users in November of that year. This week, WhatsApp was fined €3 million by Italian antitrust authorities for "inducing" users to share data with Facebook. The EC announced its investigation in December 2016.

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