Facebook bought Giphy last month, and it caused a stir. Sentiments toward Facebook have been shifting over the years, and the GIF sharing site falling into the hands of the company that also owns WhatsApp and Instagram was a disappointment for some. (There were also concerns of Giphy embeds sending personal data back to Facebook.) It set off alarms at the UK’s antitrust watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), too. The group has started a formal investigation of the purchase, and has stopped Facebook from continuing with any activities related to the acquisition without prior consent.
The CMA says that Facebook may have broken an antitrust law, and hopes to determine that, if it did, “whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.” Both Facebook and Giphy have confirmed that they will comply with the CMA’s order to halt activities related to the deal without written consent.
TechCrunch notes that the CMA has investigated Facebook mergers before, but has never completely derailed anything. The group is currently asking interested parties to comment and provide information, and will take a deeper dive next month. Hopefully the investigation will bring some clarity to Facebook’s acquisition of the popular GIF sharing service.