Facebook buying Giphy: Yay or Nay?
Just last week, Facebook acquired Giphy for a whopping $400 million, making this their fifth largest acquisition ever. They will be integrating Giphy with the Instagram team!
Giphy was founded in February of 2013. It is a database and a search engine for short looping videos called Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). Most people go on it to look for the best appropriate GIF that best describes how they feel in casual conversations. Enjoy one of my all time favorite GIFs before you continue.
Why the acquisition and the integration?
- To enhance the user experience
“50% of GIPHY’s traffic comes from the Facebook family of apps, half of that from Instagram alone. ” says Vishal Shah, Facebook VP of Product. “By bringing Instagram and GIPHY together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect GIFs and stickers in Stories and Direct.”
- To invest in Giphy’s technology and the content library
“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.”
What do people think about it?
From the sleuthing that we did, it seems that most of the reception were not great. According to Forbes’s recent article on this, people were concerned about the privacy and security issues of their data since Facebook’s infamous data scandal and breach back in 2018. Giphy has 700 million daily users. Would Facebook be sharing these data with third party companies too?
There are Facebook users who delete their Facebook accounts in protest when they find out that their private conversations were being listened to by external contractors. So, it’s to no one’s surprise that Giphy users are already talking about doing the same after the news of acquisition.
However, Ben Thompson, an experienced tech and media analyst and author of Stratechery, disagrees. He explains that Facebook will not be getting any access to the user’s data.
“The GIPHY API, on the other hand, which allows for a custom-built integration, has no such requirement, and Signal explained in 2017 how GIPHY’s service can be proxied to hide all user data. Slack has already said that they proxy GIPHY in the same way, and I strongly suspect that Twitter and Apple do the same. That means that Facebook can get total usage data from these apps, but not individual user data (and as further evidence that this sort of proxying is effective, Facebook-owned WhatsApp actually uses Google’s Tenor service; I highly doubt Facebook would have tolerated that to-date if Google were getting per-user data).”
Brian Feldman from Business Insider US thinks that both Giphy and Facebook are “perfect together”! GIFs popularity started out from Tumblr where fans of respective fandoms clip out favorite TV moments and character facial expressions to assemble moodboard. For example, the Supernatural fandom claims to have a GIF for everything that could happen in the world.
When Giphy got involved, “Giphy’s search tools led to a noticeable monotony in GIF culture. Reaction GIFs became flattened and less diverse.” said Feldman. “Giphy’s integration with [a] larger platform also forced the company to sweep some of the more, um, eccentric parts of GIF culture under the rug.”
“This pattern of behavior – growth, increased scrutiny, eventual homogeneity – is what makes Giphy perfect for Facebook, an enormous company that tries to serve so many disparate audiences it has no idea what it stands for, and whose sorting algorithm has made the once-vibrant web into a stale and infuriating place.”
Everyone and everything has their own baggage. Remember Baby Yoda? He was removed from Giphy by Disney for a little while last year over copyright. Now that Facebook, aka Mr Cha-Ching, has acquired Giphy. Copyrights holder might make plans (like my GIF up there) to get some of the cha-ching.
To combat that, there could be a possible purging of IP headaches very similar to Feldman summed it up pretty nicely, “…Facebook might choose to purge these possible IP headaches rather than deal with the associated costs and paperwork, wiping out years of accumulated digital memorabilia – and further flattening the already paltry landscape.” This once happened after Yahoo! Acquired Geocity!
It’s best to keep our eyes peeled on for the latest news on these, especially when it comes to the user’s data. Data breaches ain’t no joke. Just look at the whole thing with Epic Games. Now that’s another article for another day!