By Natalia Drozdiak and Sam Schechner

BRUSSELS--The European Union's antitrust regulator on Monday said it was granting Facebook Inc. an additional few weeks to respond to charges the social media giant misled investigators who were probing the company's purchase of chat app WhatsApp in 2014.

The European Commission, the bloc's competition watchdog, in December filed formal charges against Facebook, accusing the company of inaccurately claiming during the 2014 takeover that it was unable to reliably match user accounts between Facebook and WhatsApp. The company started doing just that two years later when it began combining user data across the services.

The EU initially gave Facebook until the end of January to respond to the so-called statement of objections, which is the charge sheet outlining the commission's concerns.

"Upon Facebook's request, the commission has extended the deadline for Facebook to reply to the statement of objections by a few weeks," a commission spokeswoman said. "It is normal process, where appropriate, for the commission to grant such extensions."

A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.

If it decides Facebook breached EU merger-procedure rules, the commission could fine the company up to 1% of its world-wide revenue. That could work out to up to $179 million based on Facebook's 2015 revenue.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 30, 2017 13:32 ET (18:32 GMT)

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