Facebook's ongoing problems in Europe reared their head yet again today. The European Commission has fined the social network $122 million for “providing incorrect or misleading information” related to its 2014 acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp.
According to the Commission's statement, Facebook misinformed antitrust regulators when it said it could not automatically share data between users’ WhatsApp and Facebook accounts. An update to Facebook’s policies and T&Cs last August meant more WhatsApp user data, including phone numbers, would be shared with its parent company, contradicting the earlier claim.
"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," reads the statement.
Back in December, the Commission said Facebook “intentionally or negligently” submitted misleading information during the agency's investigation into the $19 billion takeover. Facebook is accused of lying a second time in response to the Statement of Objections.
Facebook has admitted it made errors in the 2014 filing but insists they were not intentional. The company added that the Commission has confirmed it would not go back on its approval of the merger. "Today's announcement brings this matter to a close," Facebook said.
As it cooperated with proceedings and admitted it was at fault, Facebook escaped a much larger fine. The amount could have reached 1 percent of its annual turnover - $276 million based on its 2016 financial report.
Back in September, Germany ordered Facebook to stop collecting data on WhatsApp users. Two months later, the data sharing policy was suspended in the UK following a threat from country’s Information Commissioner’s office.