EU regulators fine Facebook £94m over WhatsApp purchase

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, on a visit to the European Commission in 2015

Updated: Facebook said in a statement the errors made in its 2014 filings were not intentional and that the Commission had confirmed they had not affected the outcome of the merger review. “Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close,” it said. The Commission said the company had cooperated with the proceedings and acknowledged its infringement.

The European Union has said it will fine Facebook 110 million euros (£94m) for providing misleading information over its purchase of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.

Calling it a “proportionate and deterrent fine,” the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s competition watchdog, said Facebook had claimed it could not automatically match user accounts on its platform with those on WhatsApp – but two years later launched a service that did exactly that.

“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.

The fine would not reverse the Commission’s decision to clear the purchase of WhatsApp and was unrelated to separate investigations into data protection issues, it added.