Facebook fined $69.6 million in the UK for breaking rules related to its Giphy takeover

The competition authority cited a "lack of cooperation" by Facebook.

Toby Melville / reuters

After Facebook acquired the popular GIF repository Giphy (reportedly for $400 million), the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation to determine if the merger would lessen competition. As part of that probe, it said Facebook couldn't continue with activities related to the merger (integrating products, merging teams and so on) without prior approval from the CMA.

Now, the CMA has announced that it has fined Facebook £50.5 million ($70 million) for breaching those enforcement orders. "This is the first time a company has been found by the CMA to have breached an [order] by consciously refusing to report all the required information," the CMA said in a press release.

The authority said that Facebook "significantly limited the scope of" updates required by the CMA, despite repeated warnings. Citing criticism by the Competition Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal, it noted that Facebook engaged in "what might be regarded as a high-risk strategy" around a "lack of cooperation" with the CMA.

In response to the fine, a Facebook spokesperson gave the following statement: "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."

The CMA said it also fined the company £500,000 ($700,000) for changing its Chief Compliance Officers twice without seeking consent. Facebook saw net revenue of $29.4 billion in 2020, so the fines are relative pocket change. However, its issues with the CMA aren't over yet, as the authority has yet to make a decision on the merger itself. In the meantime, it promised to "work constructively with the companies as things progress further."

Update 10/20/2021 7:58 AM ET: Facebook gave Engadget a statement on the ruling, which has been added to the article.