UK forces Meta to halt its forced sale of Giphy

A court orders antitrust watchdog to review the original decision.

Dado Ruvic / reuters

The UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal has ordered the country’s antitrust watchdog to review its decision to force Meta to sell Giphy, reports Bloomberg. “We have agreed to reconsider our decision in light of this finding,” a spokesperson for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) told the outlet, adding the agency hopes to complete the process within three months.

As The Verge notes, the ruling comes after Meta largely lost its appeal against the CMA. The tribunal sided with the watchdog on five of the agency's six claims against the company. However, on the one ruling that went in Meta’s favor, the tribunal said the CMA had failed to properly inform the company of Snapchat’s acquisition of Gfycat, thereby undermining its defense. Now, not only must the CMA reconsider its decision, but it must also allow Meta to comment on an unredacted version of its report.

Meta’s $315 million acquisition of Giphy drew the attention of the CMA shortly after the company announced the deal in May 2020. One month after the announcement, the watchdog began investigating the purchase. By August 2021, it ruled Meta’s ownership of Giphy could allow the company to prevent rivals like TikTok and Snapchat from accessing Giphy’s GIF library. Meta declined to comment on the ruling. The company previously argued that the CMA was acting outside of its jurisdiction because Giphy had no operations in the UK.

“Today’s ruling found that the CMA’s approach to its investigation was ‘difficult to defend’ and ‘undermines the entirety of the Decision,’" the company said after the Competition Appeal Tribunal's initial ruling. "We look forward to understanding how these serious process flaws will be addressed. We firmly believe our investment would enhance GIPHY’s product for the millions of people, businesses, and partners who use it.”