Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Tech Times | Facebook misled during investigation of WhatsApp deal

Published:Monday | January 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The European Commission says Facebook offered "misleading" information during its investigation of the social network's acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion.

At issue during the EU probe was the linking of users' Facebook and WhatsApp accounts. Two years ago, according to the EU, Facebook said it could not establish "reliable automated matching" between accounts.

In August of this year, WhatsApp revealed it was updating its terms and privacy policy to start sharing more data with Facebook, including user phone numbers. In an August statement, WhatsApp said the move would help it fight spam and abuse as well as determine how often people used the app. The surprise move was criticised by users and privacy activists, ushering in a slew of how-to articles on how to opt out of that sharing.

The EU claims Facebook submitted "incorrect or misleading" information about its ability to link accounts.

"Our timely and effective review of mergers depends on the accuracy of the information provided by the companies involved," said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement recently. "In this specific case, the Commission's preliminary view is that Facebook gave us incorrect or misleading information during the investigation into its acquisition of WhatsApp."

In a statement, Facebook says it "acted in good faith" during the Commission's investigation. "We've consistently provided accurate information about our technical capabilities and plans, including in submissions about the WhatsApp acquisition and in voluntary briefings before WhatsApp's privacy policy update this year," reads Facebook's statement.

Facebook could receive a fine of up to 1% of its revenue if the Commission confirms its findings. Shares were down 0.3% in early US trading.

In February, the messaging app topped 1 billion users, followed by Facebook's own Messenger app.

- Brett Molina