Giphy, the internet’s primary source of gifs, has been acquired by Facebook for $400 million to primarily be part of Instagram. According to a statement from Instagram’s VP of product, Vishal Shah, 50 per cent of Giphy’s traffic already comes from Facebook’s “family of apps” (such as WhatsApp and Messenger), with half of those from Instagram alone. This means it’ll be easier for people using Instagram to send and post gifs and stickers in Stories and Instagram direct messages, but raises questions over its future use in other platforms such as TikTok, Slack, Twitter and iMessage.
Giphy can be integrated into most social media and messaging apps, so you can search for gifs and stickers to add to your videos, messages and posts, but has until now remained independent from any of the major platforms. Based in New York, it was founded in 2013 and raised around $150 million in venture capital funding to become what it is today, with 700 million people seeing Giphy content every day (according to the gif site). While this acquisition marks a leap for Giphy itself, the fact that it’s by Facebook – which continues to be subject to scrutiny over privacy since the Cambridge Analytica exposé – will add to concerns over the company’s access to people’s private data, as well as other platform’s sharing of the data through embedding Giphy in their own apps.
The Verge reports that Democrats in the US have been pushing for closer checks on large corporate mergers during the pandemic, with the introduction of the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act. In a statement last week, a spokesperson for US Senator Elizabeth Warren said that “Facebook’s acquisition is yet another example of a giant company using the pandemic to further consolidate power - this time it’s a company with a history of privacy violations gaining more control over online communications.”
In his statement, Shah urged that Giphy “will continue to operate its library (including its global content collection),” and that 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”.
He adds: “Gifs and stickers give people meaningful and creative ways to express themselves,” and that the merger “will only accelerate how people use visual communication to connect with each other”.