Facebook fined $164m over misleading WhatsApp data

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Facebook fined $164m over misleading WhatsApp data

EU watchdog says social media giant lied.

European Union antitrust regulators today said they would fine Facebook €110 million (A$164 million) 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 said it could not automatically match user accounts on its namesake platform and 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.

The commission can fine a company as much as 1 percent of its global turnover.

The EU sanction comes on the heels of a €150,000 fine handed down by a French data watchdog to Facebook earlier this week for failing to prevent its users' data being accessed by advertisers.

Italian antitrust authorities levied a €3 million fine on WhatsApp last week for allegedly obliging users to agree to share their personal data with Facebook.

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