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Facebook’s parent company Meta has been directed to sell GIF-sharing platform Giphy by a UK watchdog over competition fears. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the decision was “protecting millions of social media users and promoting competition and innovation in digital advertising.” The independent CMA panel reviewing the merger concluded that the deal had increased Meta’s already significant market power by denying or limiting other platforms’ access to Giphy GIFs, driving more traffic to Meta-owned apps, and changing the terms of access by requiring some rival platforms to provide more user data in order to access Giphy. The competition watchdog said the deal also removed Giphy as a potential challenger in the display advertising market after its investigation found that before the merger, Giphy’s advertising services had the potential to compete with Facebook’s own ad business by allowing companies to promote their brands through images and GIFs. The CMA …