Giphy, a popular GIF bank site, has been acquired by Facebook on the 15th of May for a reported price of USD 400 million. They plan to integrate Giphy’s massive GIF library into Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. However, other apps and services that use Giphy now could drop support for the service at any moment after Facebook’s acquisition.
Previously, Facebook has already relied on Giphy’s API for sourcing GIFs in its apps for years as their main app, as well as Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp all already work with the service. But under its new ownership, Giphy will be part of the Instagram team, with the goal of making it even easier to send GIFs and stickers in Instagram stories and direct messages.
“GIFs and stickers give people meaningful and creative ways to express themselves. We see the positivity in how people use GIPHY in our products today, and we know that bringing the GIPHY team’s creativity and talent together with ours will only accelerate how people use visual communication to connect with each other,” wrote Vishal Shah, VP of Product in Facebook.
Why it might be a problem
With the new change, some of the other popular apps that rely on Giphy to let users share and post GIFs, including Apple’s iMessage, TikTok and Twitter, might not want to have a Facebook-owned platform integrated with their products moving forward. Besides not wanting to rely on major competitors, Facebook has had issues with privacy and reliability.
There are currently no tracking pixels, cookies, or any other embedded user tracking mechanisms in Giphy’s GIFs or stickers. Telegram Messenger‘s Twitter account tweeted that the Giphy API sees the search term, but doesn’t get any of your data and doesn’t know who you are.
Even so, Facebook could possibly change the way Giphy works after their acquisition. Here are how some apps and services with built-in Giphy integrations could be affected by the change:
The email marketing service states that they plan to continue offering Giphy integration, as they even offer an official Facebook integration that lets you add an email signup form to a Facebook page and publish ads for your Mailchimp campaign to Facebook.
Signal, a cross-platform encrypted messaging service, credits itself as an end-to-end encrypted privacy and security focused service. According to Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike, the app already implements its GIF search in a privacy-preserving way, which means Facebook may not be able to get any data from Signal.
Signal also stated:
Privacy and security are at the heart of everything that we do at Signal. From the very beginning, Signal has hidden search terms from gif search providers using a privacy-preserving proxy, and the Giphy SDK isn’t included in the app at all.
The Signal service never sees the plaintext contents of what is transmitted or received during gif searches because the TLS connection is negotiated directly with Giphy, and Giphy doesn’t know who issued the request because the TCP connection is proxied through the Signal service.
This privacy-preserving functionality has been built into Signal since November of 2016, and further expanded with additional enhancements in November of 2017.
The business communication platform lets you download install a Giphy integration at your workspace, and they’ve stated that they are committed to protecting user and company data.
“Giphy doesn’t receive any information about users or even companies using the Giphy for Slack integration, and only sees Slack usage of the Giphy API in aggregate,” said Brian Elliott, vice president and general manager of Slack.
“No IP addresses or IDs, let alone phone numbers or other data, have ever been shared with Giphy,” said a Telegram spokesperson.
The messaging app also stated that Giphy has never received any data about Telegram users, and that the app is in the middle of transitioning away from the GIF site.
Twitter and Facebook has had a rivalry for a while. For example, Instagram cut off Twitter’s ability to display its photos inside of tweets back in 2012, so sticking with Giphy might not be in the cards for the social media app.
Besides Giphy, Twitter also relies on Tenor for GIFS. There could be a possibility that they could rely on that instead of Giphy.
Other apps like iMessage, Snapchat, TikTok, Tinder, Pinterest, Reddit and Trello hasn’t yet made statements regarding plans to change how they work with the GIF site. However, apps like TikTok and Tinder offer the option to log in with your Facebook account so they might not be too concerned about Facebook’s acquisition.
There may be some added tension with these services going forward with Facebook. But Facebook says developers will be able to rely on Giphy as they had before the acquisition.
“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,” said Vishal Shah.
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