The EU has approved Facebook’s landmark $19 billion acquisition of messaging startup WhatsApp — determining that the two are “not close competitors”. In a statement confirming the clearance, it highlights three key areas where it believes the two do not create an anticompetitive environment for other players in this space: consumer communications services; social networking services; and online advertising services.
The third of these — advertising — is perhaps the most surprising of all. The EC backs away completely from privacy questions, and goes so far as to say that if WhatsApp did run Facebook advertising (a surprise in itself, given the promises both companies have made), it still would not violate competition since there are so many other companies out there mining your data that are outside of Facebook’s domain:
“There will continue to be a sufficient number of alternative providers to Facebook for the supply of targeted advertising, and a large…
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