Is it pronounced with a soft ‘g’, as in ‘giraffe’ or a hard ‘g’ like ‘gorilla’?
However you say it, there’s no denying the ubiquity of the GIF. The Graphics Interface Format, founded by Steve White while working for CompuServe in 1987, has taken on a whole new lease of life in the modern era, with advances in network capacity making it easier than ever to share these short, micro-snippets of video to help express your opinion on whatever grabs your attention.
But while GIFs have been rising in popularity for some time, the world’s largest social network, Facebook, has somewhat lagged behind, providing no native ways to utilize GIFs on their platform*, despite the format being hugely popular on other networks.
But in recent times, Facebook’s softened its anti-GIF stance, adding capacity to use GIFs in Facebook ads, to add GIF-like images as cover photos on Pages, and now, to use GIFs to reply to individual comments.
Facebook’s actually been rolling out this capacity to certain users for the last couple of months, but now, to mark the 30th anniversary of the GIF, they’re providing the option to all users. So get ready for your comment sections to become squirming sprawls of movement, looping in infinity as you scan through.
In addition to this, Facebook’s also provided some new stats on GIF use – on Messenger, of course (as noted, native GIFs on Facebook haven’t been supported).
- People on Messenger sent nearly 13 billion GIFs in the last year, or nearly 25,000 GIFs every minute
- GIF sends on Messenger have tripled in the past year
- New Year’s Day 2017 was the most popular day ever for GIF sends on Messenger, with more than 400 million GIF sends
Given the usage rates on Messenger, it’s somewhat surprising that Facebook’s taken so long to provide more native GIF options – and even moreso when you consider the wider usage of GIFs. For example, GIPHY, which, as the name suggests, provides a platform for users to share GIFs, now has more than 100 million daily active users, who send more than a billion GIFs every 24 hours (GIPHY’s now valued at more than $ 600 million).
For their part, Facebook’s previously noted that they don’t want GIFs to clutter the news feed, making it a chaotic mess of moving images. But given the widespread use of GIFs on the modern web, it seems that most people are familiar with the format, and it’s not likely to be overused to oblivion. Probably.
Further adding to their embrace of the GIF, Facebook’s also partnering with the aforementioned GIPHY for their 30th anniversary promotion, which features some well known web celebrities in new, custom GIFs, available by searching for #GIFparty on Facebook and Messenger.
They look a little too staged for my liking, but maybe there’s some in there that work for what you’re trying to express.
And as a final element of their GIF celebrations, Facebook’s also running a poll to settle, once and for all, how GIF is pronounced.
“Over the next few days, if you live in the US you might see a poll on Facebook asking you to cast your vote. You can also vote by visiting Facebook’s official Page on your mobile phone. To find the Page, search for “Facebook” in the main Facebook app.”
So if it really grates on you when people pronounce GIF wrong – whichever way you see it – now you cast your vote. Facebook says they’ll release the results at a later stage.
So, GIFS in Facebook comments. Go crazy.
*NOTE: You can actually upload GIFs to Facebook, and have been able to since 2015, but it’s not native – the GIFs are hosted on a third party provider and appear with a custom link. So Facebook has, technically, supported GIFs for the last couple of years, but not natively uploaded ones.