The European Commission said Facebook had claimed it was unable to automatically match user accounts on its own platform and Whatsapp.
Two years later however, they launched a capable service and claimed that their errors had not been intentional.
The Commission said in a statement, “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 statement revealed that the fine does not reverse the Commission’s decision to clear the $19bn purchase of Whatsapp and is unrelated to separated investigations into date protection issues.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager stated that the decision taken “sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information”.
Commission rules suggest Whatsapp could have been fined up to 1% of its turnover – a figure that would amount to at least twice the amount it has been told to pay.
According to Richard Craig, an IT, telecoms and competition expert from law firm Taylor Wessing, the fine showed that companies had to be more open with regulators during mergers and acquisitions.