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Facebook may have to sell Giphy on Britain’s competition concerns

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Britain might require Facebook to sell GIF website Giphy after the country’s competition regulator said on Thursday its investigation found the deal between the two companies would harm competition in the display advertising market.

Facebook, the world’s largest social media company, bought Giphy, a website for making and sharing animated images, or GIFs, in May last year to integrate it with its photo-sharing app, Instagram. The deal was pegged at $400 million by Axios.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) began a probe into the deal in January at a time when the social media network was under global regulatory scrutiny over antitrust concerns. In April the CMA referred the deal to an in-depth investigation.

“Giphy’s takeover could see Facebook withdrawing GIFs from competing platforms or requiring more user data in order to access them. It also removes a potential challenger to Facebook,” said Stuart McIntosh, chair of the independent investigation for the CMA.

The CMA said that it has engaged with other agencies reviewing the deal to help the CMA’s investigation, and is now inviting comments from interested parties by Sept. 2 for its provisional findings.

California-based Facebook and Giphy did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.