Facebook Owns GIF Integration In Wire Messenger

August 6, 2020 - Published by

Facebook is everywhere

Wire Messenger is a secure, end-to-end encrypted messaging application and one of my preferred contact options. I’ve been a (mostly) happy user of it for nearly two years – however, I discovered that their integrated GIF service, Giphy, was recently bought by Facebook.

This means that by default, if you’re using Wire, GIFs you send through the integrated GIF search engine, are being pulled from servers operated by Facebook – for the time being, you don’t need to run Giphy specific JavaScript to use this option (checked via Wire in Firefox browser), however this may change in the future.

What can I do?

Wire is a free software project, and the project does focus on privacy, so it would be a good start to contact them and make them aware of this.

Ideally they should integrate an alternative that Facebook doesn’t own, and that respects user privacy.

I am still going to be using Wire, but I’ve blocked Giphy in my /etc/hosts file as follows:

0.0.0.0 giphy.com

You can look up specific instructions on editing the hosts file depending on the operating system you run, but this is possible on rooted Android phones, GNU/Linux systems, MacOS and Windows. Unfortunately, on non-rooted Android and iPhone, editing the hosts file is not possible, as you do not have administrative privileges over the device you allegedly ‘own’.

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This post was written by Karl Swanepoel