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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Regulators in the U.K. on Tuesday said they have directed Facebook parent company Meta to sell Giphy after finding "the takeover could reduce competition between social media platforms and increase Facebook's already significant market power."

Why it matters: Facebook agreed to buy Giphy in May of last year for an estimated price of $400 million. The deal almost immediately invited antitrust scrutiny, given the increased attention to Facebook's growing market power.

Details: In a statement, the U.K.'s competition and markets authority concluded that the deal would be anticompetitive because Facebook could theoretically increase market power by "denying or limiting other platforms’ access to Giphy GIFs," or "changing the terms of access," to its GIFs for competitive sites.

  • Regulators also determined that the deal was uncompetitive because it shut down Giphy's advertising business, therefore eliminating Giphy’s competition to Facebook's ad business.
  • As a result, regulators said Facebook "will also be required to reinstate the innovative advertising services that Giphy offered before the merger."
  • Facebook did not immediately return a request for comment.

Be smart: GIFs, or short videos used in conversation online to express reactions, are valuable to social platforms because they increase engagement.

  • Google acquired GIF startup Tenor in 2018. That deal was presumably much smaller in scale, which is perhaps why it didn't receive as much regulatory scrutiny.

The big picture: The decision comes amid a period of heightened scrutiny on Facebook and Big Tech for its market power. Lawmakers in the U.S. and around the globe are currently probing Facebook for anticompetitive practices.

Go deeper

Jan 11, 2022 - Technology

Meta loses bid to dismiss FTC antitrust case

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Federal Trade Commission's antitrust suit against Meta, formerly Facebook, can move forward, a federal court ruled Tuesday.

The big picture: The same judge who dismissed an earlier version of the agency's lawsuit, filed under the Trump administration, says this time the government's case — as rewritten by the agency now led by chair Lina Khan — is good enough to try.

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

The latest: Greater Manchester Police, in Northwest England, tweeted on Sunday night that officers had arrested and detained two teenagers in South Manchester for questioning in relation to the siege in Colleyville, Texas, "as part of the ongoing investigation into the attack."

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm that's spawned tornadoes while pummeling the Southern U.S. began lashing the Northeast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.