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Facebook buys Giphy, sparking debate about data access


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Facebook has acquired Giphy, the popular library of animated GIFs, and plans to “further integrate” it into Instagram and other Facebook apps, while still making it available to non-Facebook apps too.

“We’re looking forward to investing further in its technology and relationships with content and API partners. People will still be able to upload GIFs; developers and API partners will continue to have the same access to Giphy’s APIs; and Giphy’s creative community will still be able to create great content,” promised Facebook.

“We will continue to make Giphy openly available to the wider ecosystem,” added Giphy in its own statement. That’s good news for the musicians who’ve been using Giphy to make their own official ranges of GIFs available.

A price for the acquisition wasn’t announced, but news site Axios reported that it was $400m – a notable dip from its most recent private valuation of $600m.

The deal is already sparking controversy though, focusing on what data Facebook will have access to from the other apps that use Giphy (if, indeed, they continue to do so).

This article by Wired and this one by OneZero offer good primers on that debate: in short, it’s about Facebook’s potential ability to see what content is proving popular on competitors’ apps.

Some US politicians are already rumbling about the implications – one concern for lawmakers there is that the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will lead to a swathe of ‘big tech firm buys financially-struggling smaller service’ deals.

 

Image by Frederic Legrand COMEO / Shutterstock.com

Stuart Dredge

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