In time for the 30th birthday of the GIF, Facebook on Thursday announced that you will now be able to leave GIFs as comments on the social network. You could already send GIFs on Messenger, and WhatsApp, and Facebook has been testing the ability to add GIFs to comments for a while now. The feature is finally rolling out to everyone.
Putting a GIF in the comments on Facebook is really simple. In the Write a comment box, you can click or tap on the GIF button – this shows you trending GIFs, and also allows you to search for GIFs across other sources like Giphy. The search results only show a couple of options at a time but you can scroll through them easily, to find the GIF you want to add. It’s not all that different from using GIFs on any other platform, such as Messenger, or even Twitter.
Facebook is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the GIF format with a GIF party, asking users to share their favourite animations, and launching 20 new GIFs featuring Internet influencers created by Giphy. All the GIFs can be found on the giphy.com/facebook website.
The GIF format was defined as a standard on June 15, 1987, and saw its last major update in 1989. As an image format, it was quickly replaced by other, more popular files such as JPG, but it continued to live on as GIF also allows you to create simple animations. After a rush in the early 90s where it seemed that every website had simple animations scattered around the page (along with Comic Sans, blinking text, and special effects for mouse cursors), GIFs quickly dropped out of fashion.
Blame hampsterdance, or that weird dancing baby GIF which even showed up on a bunch of TV shows, but GIFs had worn out their welcome. Flash, and later HTML5, meant you could have better looking animations that took up much less bandwidth, making them far better suited for a time when we were still struggling with Internet speeds and data caps.
But if GIFs had a great childhood and then faded away in their teens, then in the last decade, they’ve made a comeback that’s nothing short of taking over the Internet. GIFs are now a staple of messaging apps (both personal and professional), social networks, and there are media empires that got their start by curating GIFs and giving it a catchy headline.
With social media and messaging apps on the rise, the GIF also saw a major comeback. LOL, IDK, and OMG were cool Internet-speak at one point, but they were replaced by emoticons, and then emoji. GIFs were really a natural extension, allowing more nuance, with the same economy of expression. Connections – mobile and otherwise – grew faster and data limits went up, so today we have better quality for GIFs, and thanks to sites like Giphy and Tumblr, there’s a repository of GIFs for every occasion as well.
If you want to see just how crazy people can get with GIFs, check out resources such as /HighQualityGifs on Reddit – you’ll be amazed at how people are now making long GIFs that could well be movie clips, editing them, and making additions painstakingly. Not bad for a format everyone thought was dead and gone, right?