Thirty years to the day after CompuServe first introduced the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) to the world, Facebook has announced that its nearly two billion global users can now comment on posts using the little animated images.
In an era of high-bandwidth video streaming from our pockets, the fact that the humble GIF has not only survived but is thriving is nothing short of a miracle. But the file format’s continued cross-platform support and ability to entertain and convey information with minimal processing power is why it’s still alive and kicking today.
Facebook first announced plans to test out GIFs in Facebook comments a few months back, but on the 30th anniversary of the GIF, the social networking giant is opening the feature to everyone around the world — you’ll now see a little GIF button sandwiched between the “attach a photo” and “sticker” buttons in the comment field.
Facebook has officially supported GIFs in its standalone Messenger app for a couple of years already, while its massively popular messaging app WhatsApp began embracing GIFs late last year. Elsewhere, Google recently launched Data GIF Maker to help storytellers convey information through animations, while Giphy revealed it was expanding Facebook integration with GIFs for live video and camera effects.
Put simply, GIFs are very much here to stay and are not only more popular than ever on the web, but are proving to be integral to the fabric of online social communications.
Facebook said that since it rolled out GIFs in Messenger back in 2015, GIF sends have tripled in the past year alone, with 13 billion GIFs sent, or about 25,000 GIFs each and every minute.
Finally: The GIF’s creator, former CompuServe employee Steve Wilhite, caused a stink a few years back when he said that the word should be pronounced with a soft “g,” making it “JIF” — even though the “g” stands for the word “graphics” which is clearly a hard “g” sound. Facebook wants to settle this debate by garnering a popular consensus on its pronunciation — if you live in the U.S., you may see this poll in the coming days.