In a setback for Facebook, the European Commission (EC) has charged the social media giant with providing “incorrect information” during the investigation into its acquisition of the popular mobile messaging app WhatsApp. Facebook could face fine of up to 1 percent of its global turnover in 2014 (over $10 billion at that time) when the merger was approved, The Guardian reported on Wednesday. Also Read - WhatsApp will make archived chats stay where they belong, even if there's a new messageAlso Read - WhatsApp tips: How to send message to an unknown number without saving it
“Our timely and effective review of mergers depends on the accuracy of the information provided by the companies involved. 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. Facebook now has the opportunity to respond,” European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
“The Commission takes the preliminary view that, contrary to Facebook’s statements and reply during the merger review, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users’ IDs with WhatsApp users’ IDs already existed in 2014,” the statement added. ALSO READ: WhatsApp beta update lets users revoke messages, photos and videos
The EU move, however, will not have an impact on the approval of the $22 billion merger in 2014. “Companies are obliged to give the commission accurate information during merger investigations. They must take this obligation seriously,” added Vestager who has also demanded that tech giant Apple must pay back $14 billion in taxes to Ireland. “We respect the commission’s process and are confident that a full review of the facts will confirm Facebook has acted in good faith,” a Facebook spokesperson responded to the EU statement of objections.
Facebook, however, stopped the use of user data shared between WhatsApp and Facebook for advertising purposes in November.