The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority advised Facebook's parent company on Tuesday to sell Giphy, a platform that allows users to share GIFs.
The antitrust watchdog reportedly argued that the acquisition deal between Meta and Giphy could harm social media users and U.K. advertisers by suppressing competition for animated images on the Facebook platform.
“By requiring Facebook to sell Giphy, we are protecting millions of social media users and promoting competition and innovation in digital advertising,” Stuart McIntosh, chair of the group that carried out the investigation, told The Associated Press.
According to CNBC, the group also found that if Facebook were able to limit other social platforms' use of Giphy's images, it would “increase its already significant market power.”
A Meta spokesperson told The Hill that the company disagrees with the watchdog's decision.
"We are reviewing the decision and considering all options, including appeal," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "Both consumers and GIPHY are better off with the support of our infrastructure, talent, and resources. Together, Meta and GIPHY would enhance GIPHY’s product for the millions of people, businesses, developers and API partners in the UK and around the world who use GIPHY every day, providing more choices for everyone."
Meta and the Competition and Markets Authority have waged a legal battle over the deal, reportedly worth about $400 million.
Tuesday's development marks the first time that the watchdog has tried to end a tech deal, the AP noted.
--Updated at 10:29 a.m.