Facebook has bought GIPHY, and already the conspiracy theories are coming thick and fast, including suggestions that a thin-skinned Mark Zuckerberg has been quick to demand some censorship. The deal – reportedly worth $400 million – will see GIPHY’s team join Facebook’s Instagram group, a natural fit, so the social networking behemoth claims, given how much Instagram users rely on the GIF database.
One quick rumor was that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had requested that GIFs of him should be removed from GIPHY. There’s certainly no shortage of such clips, including his infamous water-sip from the Facebook hearings in front of the US Senate, and his meeting with President Obama.
The reality, GIPHY says, is that Zuckerberg has made no such demands. “Hearing reports that we are taking down GIFs, specifically of Mark Zuckerberg,” Tyler Menzel, Head of Content and Editorial at GIPHY, tweeted today. “Want to clarify that this is not true as we only take down content that violates our guidelines. We are looking into the issue immediately, but can confirm we have not intentionally taken anything down.”
Facebook’s acquisition of GIPHY is already proving to be a controversial one. While Facebook remains hugely popular, it also has its share of critics, and for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s lax responses to fake news, the social network’s involvement in the handling of the US election, or its approach to privacy and user data, there’s no shortage of reasons why people take issue with Mark Zuckerberg’s company.
That has extended to frustrations around the companies Facebook acquires. Hackles were raised when it purchased Instagram for approximately $1 billion in early 2012, and Oculus for $2.3 billion in 2014. Perhaps most divisive was Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp in February 2014, the company paying approximately $19.3 billion for the popular messaging app.
That led to some users switching away from WhatsApp to other messaging platforms. It also created tensions among the WhatsApp executive team, all of whom went on to leave Facebook, often accompanied by criticisms of the company for privacy reasons.
For the moment, it’s too early to say how the GIPHY integration into Instagram – and Facebook more broadly – will go. Certainly, the GIF service’s fortunes have been buoyed by Instagram users: according to Facebook, 50-percent of GIPHY traffic comes from apps within its portfolio, and of that half is from Instagram users putting animations into their Stories and messages.