How the Facebook buying Giphy for $400 million could affect you?

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Facebook Can Use Giphy to Collect Your Data

On Friday, Facebook announced that it will buy Giphy, a popular GIF search engine and hosting service, for a reported $400 million. Facebook also announced plans to integrate Giphy’s GIF library into Instagram and other Facebook products like Messenger and WhatsApp. But what really counts is the access Facebook will have to the vast data about how GIFs are used across thousands of apps.

Giphy has some 300 million active users every day across various platforms. These users share GIFs across different platforms thinking that sharing a GIF hardly involved cybersecurity. But it does! Owen Williams of OneZero has made a medium post explaining the dangers of Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy.

How Giphy can help Facebook track users

Williams says that each search made on Giphy and the GIF you share is a “beacon” for Giphy 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. At the same time, Giphy also embeds the image with a JavaScript software that tracks how and where the image is being shared. It also has its own cookies or tracking identifiers that track the user’s browsing habits.

When embedded into third-party apps, Giphy can track each keystroke that’s searched using Giphy tools. Developers who install the Giphy client SDK are required to give access to the device tracking ID. The tracking ID gives access to Giphy to match the identity of a user across the cross-section of apps they use.

The reason behind Facebook paying $400 million for Giphy partly lies in this valuable data. Now Giphy belongs to Facebook so this data can be harnessed by Facebook to further its own expansion agenda.

The acquisition also helps Giphy. Facebook and its Apps will give Giphy a wider audience and allow it to work on a new set of Apps. But Facebook is the real winner according to Willians. IT gives Facebook an opportunity to better understand user behavior in its own apps, and beyond, and ultimately could enhance its ad-tracking capabilities further.

Facebook has not commented on how it plans to use Giphy’s tracking capabilities but the $400 million bill for Giphy is not just for GIFs.

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"The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had." Eric Schmidt

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