In a surprise move, Facebook has announced today that it is purchasing the popular GIF service Giphy. The deal is worth about $400M and Facebook’s initial plan will be to tie the GIF platform tightly with Instagram.

Axios broke the news this morning before being confirmed by Facebook. The company was apparently in talks with Facebook before the coronavirus pandemic, according to anonymous sources. Those started around forming more of a partnership before evolving into a full-on acquisition.

Facebook shared more on the purchase in a blog post including a statistic for how much traffic it was already driving to Giphy:

A lot of people in our community already know and love GIPHY. In fact, 50% of GIPHY’s traffic comes from the Facebook family of apps, half of that from Instagram alone. By bringing Instagram and GIPHY together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect GIFs and stickers in Stories and Direct. Both our services are big supporters of the creator and artist community, and that will continue. Together, we can make it easier for anyone to create and share their work with the world.

Facebook said it plans to keep the Giphy API access the same.

We’ve used GIPHY’s API for years, not just in Instagram, but in the Facebook app, Messenger and WhatsApp. GIPHY will continue to operate its library (including its global content collection), and we’re looking forward to investing further in its technology and relationships with content and API partners. 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.

Even with Facebook planning to keep the Giphy brand intact as well as the API, many are concerned about what this means for privacy and security, including 9to5Mac’s Gui Rambo.

Notably, Giphy has an iMessage app that’s popular with iPhone and iPad users. Time will tell how Facebook’s acquisition could change users’ feelings about using Giphy going forward.

As an alternative, Apple features its own GIF search app called “#images” as a built-in iMessage app. Read more in our tutorial here.

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