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Parliamentary questions
PDF 52kWORD 18k
28 January 2019
Question for written answer E-000446-19
to the Commission
Rule 130
Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE)

 Subject:  Facebook to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger and Facebook — WhatsApp 2014 takeover and Council Merger Regulation
 Answer in writing 

Facebook’s plan to integrate three applications was first reported in the New York Times(1), something which Facebook probably did not want to announce in the middle of a privacy scandal.(2)

Until now, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger have been run as separate and competing products.

The integration of the three apps will allow Facebook to share data across the three platforms and improve its targeted advertising(3), although whether users will have actually given their consent in accordance with the GDPR and Article 5(3) of the e-Privacy Directive(4)(5) is a different matter.

Such integration will make Facebook’s suite of apps a much tighter, interwoven collection of services, making it more difficult to break up and spin off the key parts of Facebook’s empire, if regulators deem it necessary.(6)

In 2014, when Facebook announced that it had acquired WhatsApp(7)(8), it informed the Commission that it would be unable to establish reliable automated matching between the accounts of Facebook users and WhatsApp users.

1. When did Facebook inform the Commission about such integration, or if it did not, did the latter request information?

2. As the EU Merger Regulation(9) obliges companies to provide information that is not misleading(10); will the Commission look again at the 2014 Facebook-WhatsApp merger?(11)

3. When the Facebook-WhatsApp merger was agreed by DG Competition, WhatsApp was supposed to remain a fully autonomous application. Does the Commission agree that the integration of the three applications breaches the commitments outlined?(12)


Last updated: 14 February 2019Legal notice