How Facebook Could Use Giphy to Collect Your Data

Giphy joins Facebook’s data collection arsenal

Owen Williams
OneZero
Published in
3 min readMay 15, 2020

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Image: Giphy

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

What might not be obvious, however, is that each search and GIF you send with Giphy is also a “beacon” that allows the company to track how and where the image is being shared, as well as the sentiment the image expresses. Giphy wraps each of its animated GIFs in a special format that helps the image load faster, and also…

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Owen Williams
OneZero

Fascinated by how code and design is shaping the world. I write about the why behind tech news. Design Manager in Tech. https://twitter.com/ow