Reply threads on Facebook are about to get a lot more animated. To mark the 30th anniversary of the GIF format, all users will get the new GIF comment button that Facebook began testing three months ago. Facebook also announced that almost 13 billion GIFs were sent on Messenger over the past year, with 400 million GIFs sent just on New Year’s Day 2017.
The GIF button lets people search and post GIFs from different services, like Giphy and Tenor, directly in the comments box (on desktop browsers, the GIF button also displays trending GIFs, just like in Facebook Messenger).
Facebook added GIF support two years ago, but until now users had to enter the URL of a GIF hosted somewhere else. The GIF button makes the process a lot easier, especially on mobile. It’s currently only available for comments, but Facebook may eventually also make it available for News Feed posts because user demand for GIFs shows no signs of abating.
Facebook reportedly had support for GIFs ready for years before it was finally added but was hesitant to deploy it because of the visual impact it would have on the News Feed. Despite the company’s initial reluctance, however, users kept finding workarounds to post GIFs. The lack of GIF support also gave other services like Imgur an advantage. Now Facebook has started embracing News Feeds with “richer” (some would say busier) media and in addition to GIFs, that includes auto-play videos and colored statuses.
For fun and to mark the anniversary of when GIFs were first introduced by CompuServe in 1987, Facebook is also running a poll asking users how GIF is pronounced, a debate that continues to rage on even though the creator of GIF, Steve Wilhite, has already declared his allegiance to the soft G.