Facebook hit by antitrust scrutiny after buying a site for GIFs

FILE - In this May 1, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote speech at F8, Facebook's developer conference, in San Jose, Calif. Federal regulators are fining Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations and instituting new oversight and restrictions on its business. But they are only holding Zuckerberg personally responsible in a limited fashion. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

 (CNN) — Facebook is once again drawing scrutiny from regulators — but this time, it’s for buying a search engine sometimes used to find GIFs of John Travolta and dumpster fires.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority announced Friday it was looking into whether Facebook’s recent acquisition of Giphy “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”

In response, Facebook has decided to pause its integration with Giphy globally, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In a statement provided to CNN Business, a Facebook spokesperson said it is “prepared to show regulators that this acquisition is positive for consumers, developers, and content creators alike.”

Facebook said last month that it had acquired Giphy, a library of animated GIFs — moving images that are often used on social media to express reactions or emotions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but one report put the price tag at $400 million.

The UKprobe marks the second major antitrust inquiry into the deal. Earlierthis week, Australian competition officials alsolaunched an antitrust investigation.

“This is not just any old GIF supplier — it’s the biggest, most important one and given that, we were surprised that we weren’t notified by Facebook of this acquisition,” said Rod Sims, the chair of Australia’s competition regulator. “If, when we look at it, we do have concerns, then we obviously need to take court action.”

As UK officials follow suit, it’s unclear whether US regulators may begin their own inquiry. The Federal Trade Commission already has an active, ongoing antitrust investigation of Facebook, which the company disclosed to investors last year. The FTC is also currently evaluating completed mergers from across the tech industry in a separate study.