Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy, a search engine for funny reaction images, is being investigated by the British competition authority.
Giphy’s vast library of short video animations is extremely popular in Facebook apps.
But it also provides animations to competitors like TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter.
Now, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into whether purchasing is a problem.
He sent an execution order to Facebook, effectively putting any company merger on hold until the end of his investigation.
Announcing the acquisition in May of this year, Facebook said that half of Giphy’s traffic comes from Facebook apps, including Whatsapp and Instagram.
But he also said that the deal – worth $ 400 million (£ 317 million) – would not affect existing agreements with other partners.
CMA, however, said it was investigating whether the acquisition “could have led to a substantial reduction in competition”.
Invite comments until July 3, no date set for his decision.
But the application implies that Facebook must keep Giphy’s company, staff and technology separate from Facebook itself, unless it gets an advance written permission from the CMA.
Facebook says it wants to bring the company into its Instagram team, where the “stickers” provided by Giphy are the most popular.
A spokesman for the Facebook company said that Giphy “improves Instagram offers by offering people more functionality and tools”.
They also reiterated the company’s previous position that other companies using Giphy would not lose access to the platform.
“We are ready to demonstrate to regulators that this acquisition is beneficial for consumers, developers and content creators,” they said.
The merger of Facebook and Instagram was investigated in 2012 by the Office of Fair Trading, which used to handle these problems. He chose not to investigate the matter further.
It is not the first time that concerns have been raised about the Facebook-Giphy agreement, with questions raised about the level of access that Facebook would have to its competitors’ data through the service.
In May, shortly after the announcement, some US senators told Verge that they had such concerns.
Republican Senator for Missouri, Josh Hawley, said: “Facebook continues to look for even more ways to take our data … Facebook wants Giphy so it can collect even more data about us.”