Facebook has recently jumped on the bandwagon and announced that they will now support animated GIFs.
Pinterest and Twitter have allowed users to express themselves via GIF for some time now, but Facebook, for its own reasons, lagged behind. Until now, Facebook’s focus was on video; the company previously felt that GIFs could lead to a cluttered, low-quality-meme newsfeed that would make its platform “too chaotic”.
Before the recent developments, the only way to share GIFs on Facebook was a workaround provided by Giphy – but this wasn’t deemed as “official” Facebook support. Now, users can share GIFs they come across anywhere online to Facebook, not just from a single source.
So, why did Facebook give in? Its strict rules in terms of aesthetic uniformity is what originally set it apart from MySpace, which gave users the freedom to customise their profile pages with HTML, video, music and (of course) plenty of GIFS. So it makes perfect sense to me that Facebook would want to approach GIFs with caution; after all, what is the current “hilarious visual meme” could be the eyesore of the future. For me, they already are!
Although some believe they are an engaging, digestible way for audiences to consume information and have the ability to evoke emotion, the only emotion they evoke from me is one of annoyance.
Yes, they can add a lighthearted element to marketing, but they are also gimmicky and give the impression that not much thought has been put into creating humorous, engaging content.
It seems like Facebook was with me on this one until recently. So why the sudden change of heart? If they really didn’t want a news feed crammed with GIFs, why didn’t they go with their gut?