Facebook is looking to bring WhatsApp under its wings for a massive $19 billion, but so far it appears the European Union anti-trust committee is giving the social network a difficult time, and it is about to get even more complex.
Based on a new report, the European Union anti-trust officials have begun questioning Facebook rivals on what they think of the social network's plan to acquire WhatsApp. This move is ahead of a formal review that could be a test to see how the EU can apply its competition law to social media.
As social media apps and services begin to increase in popularity and scope, the EU wants to make sure that it has the ability to keep the market on the competitive edge.
So far, we've come to understand that EU officials have sent several letters, and emails to Facebook rivals with questionnaires embedded. The questions from what we understand, surrounds the possible impact the deal could cause for rivals. Some questions even centers around companies use and control user data.
Talks about privacy are very important to the EU, and it could become one of the main factors on deciding whether this deal goes through or not. We know that Facebook isn't acquiring WhatsApp for the amount of money the messenger app makes, it likely has to do a lot with user data, though what Facebook plans to do with this data is not yet known.
"This is a bit of a toe in the water for the commission," said [subscription required] one Brussels-based antitrust lawyer. "It's the first time they'll look at social media seriously in terms of market-power issues."
The EU hasn't taken harsh methods against the Facebook and WhatsApp deal since the popular messenger service isn't actually a big money maker, so it shouldn't have serious effects on competing services where profit is concerned.
Furthermore, this merger review is a new one for the EU, for the committee has never come across something like this before, which is one of the reasons for getting Facebook competitors involved. We are certain competitors will have a lot of negative things to say about the deal, however, what we're not certain about is whether or not the EU will use these statements to help come up with a decision.