How Facebook Could Use Giphy to Collect Your Data
Facebook announced on Friday that it will buy Giphy, a popular GIF search engine and hosting service, for a reported $400 million.
Though the announcement highlighted plans to integrate Giphy’s GIF library into Instagram, the acquisition will likely also benefit all of Facebook’s products — from Messenger to WhatsApp — by, among other things, giving Facebook access to vast data about how GIFs are used across thousands of apps.
GIF search engines like Giphy have become a core part of how we collectively discover and share animated images. Giphy’s tools can be found embedded in apps from Slack to Signal, allowing users to instantly find the right GIF to reflect the moment. All told, Giphy has some 300 million active users every day across those platforms.
Giphy can track each keystroke that’s searched using Giphy tools
When embedded into third-party apps, Giphy can track each keystroke that’s searched using Giphy tools. Developers who install Giphy tools into their apps are required to give the service access to the device’s tracking ID. Such access allows Giphy (and now, Facebook) to better match the identity of a user across the apps they use on their phone.
Not every app that has historically integrated Giphy wants to give that data to another company. Secure messaging platform Signal, for example, has gone to lengths to ensure that Giphy was unable to identify users through their Giphy use by intercepting GIF requests and performing them on their own servers, then delivering the ultimate image match themselves. To Giphy, it looks like Signal is making the search, rather than a…