The US social media giant Facebook has been fined $69.6 million by UK's Competition and Market Authority (CMA) during its investigation into the purchase of Giphy. The agency termed that Facebook is "not above the law".
The fine is at least 150 times bigger than the previous fine for a similar offense. The fine has been imposed in relation to its acquisition of GIF website Giphy in May 2020.
Competition & Markets Authority tweeted, "We’ve fined Facebook £50.5m for breaching an order we imposed during our investigation into their purchase of Giphy."
"This is the first time a company has breached an IEO by refusing to report information required after multiple warnings," the authority added.
The CMA said Facebook had failed to provide full updates about its compliance with requirements to continue to compete with Giphy and not integrate its operations with Giphy's while its investigation was ongoing.
Facebook had refused to report all the required information, despite multiple warnings, the CAM said, and it, therefore, considered the failure to comply deliberate.
"We warned Facebook that its refusal to provide us with important information was a breach of the order but, even after losing its appeal in two separate courts, Facebook continued to disregard its legal obligations," said Joel Bamford, senior director of mergers at the CMA.
Facebook is required, as part of the process, to provide the CMA with regular updates outlining its compliance with the IEO. Facebook significantly limited the scope of those updates, despite repeated warnings from the CMA.
"This should serve as a warning to any company that thinks it is above the law," said CMA.
"We strongly disagree with the CMA's unfair decision to punish Facebook for a best-effort compliance approach, which the CMA itself ultimately approved. We will review the CMA's decision and consider our options," Facebook said in a statement.
(with inputs from sources)