The European Commission has officially approved Facebook's proposed acquisition of WhatsApp, after ruling that it will not give the company a monopoly over the mobile messaging market.
The EC found that, in spite of similarities, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are not competitors, and alternative services exist for consumers.
Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp cannot therefore be considered a move by the firm to buy up a rival.
Joaquín Almunia, vice president in charge of policy at the EC, said that Europeans have a wide choice of consumer communication apps and are not limited to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, despite the two services being the most popular in the market.
"We have carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition and come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market," stated Almunia.
The EC identified services such as Google Hangouts, Telegram, iMessage and WeChat as competitors to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
The investigation did note that Facebook could bolster its already healthy position in the online advertising sector by adding ads to WhatsApp, but decided that such a move would not hamper competition in the advertising space.
Privacy concerns over WhatsApp data also came under EC scrutiny, but it was decided that any privacy concerns regarding increased data flowing to Facebook as a result of acquisitions were "not within the scope of EU competition law".
The decision in Facebook's favour means that the $19bn acquisition of WhatsApp, which was put into process back in April, will not meet any opposition from the EC.
However, the deal did incur some opposition from European telecoms companies, such as Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, which will now have the social networking giant as a rival.
V3 contacted Facebook for comment on its plans for WhatsApp in Europe, but the company has yet to respond.
The deal will be Facebook's largest, far outstripping its purchase of virtual reality headset firm Oculus Rift for $2bn.
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