EU questions competitors over Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition

2 Sep 2014

The EU has requested the input of a number of third-party organisations in relation to social network Facebook’s US$19bn acquisition of messaging app WhatsApp and whether it could potentially breach competition laws.

The organisations that have been called upon include Facebook’s largest competitors in the market, as well as some of the largest telecom operators within the EU, according to Reuters.

The acquisition has yet to receive official clearance by the EU’s anti-trust regulators, though US regulators approved the purchase in April.

Facebook had previously sought approval for the acquisition from the European government body, but now the European Commission has begun distributing questionnaires to the various companies and telecom operators.

The EU has set a deadline of 3 October, whereby it will decide whether to approve the acquisition or push its investigations further to see whether the deal could seriously harm the whole telecoms market as a result of Facebook’s dominance.

Some of the questions, which have been obtained by Reuters, that the EU sent to the companies include, “As a result of the Facebook/WhatsApp transaction, do you expect users of WhatsApp to face greater difficulties in switching to another consumer communications service/app?”

The EU’s biggest worry appears to be concern the acquisition may mean WhatsApp could become the dominant form of communication through smartphones, which would lead to the rapid decline of all other means of communication, including SMS and standard telephone calls.

WhatsApp image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic