Facebook fined $122M for misleading European Commission

May 18 (UPI) — Facebook Inc. faces a $122 million fine Thursday from the European Commission for providing misleading information regarding its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp.

When it bought WhatsApp, a messaging service, for $19 billion in a deal finalized in October 2014, Facebook assured European Union regulators it could not link its user’s identities with WhatsApp users’ telephone numbers. A commission investigation found that Facebook was aware it could do so, and did, although a later Facebook statement said the error was unintentional.

The fine could have been up to $276 million, or 1 percent of Facebook’s revenue, but the commission said it welcomed Facebook’s cooperation in the investigation. A Facebook statement said it “acted in good faith” during the probe.

“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. Today’s announcement brings this matter to a close.”

The action by the European Commission is unrelated to several antitrust investigations of Facebook. The German government is looking into allegations that Facebook abused its industry dominance in failing to inform customers about how their personal data is used. Investigations are also under way in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, and on Tuesday the data-monitoring agency of the French government fined Facebook $167,000 for allowing advertisers to access users’ information.

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