At Last: Twitter Adds GIF Support
Your Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) feed isn’t glitchy. Twitter now has GIFs. So don’t be surprised if a particularly GIF-happy user tweets a lot of GIFs to make up for the past eight years of not being able to post the looping videos on Twitter.
The social media platform announced its newest feature in a 40-character Tweet from the official Twitter support account.
— Twitter Support (@Support) June 18, 2014
This new feature is one that many Twitter users have been requesting on a regular basis, reported The Verge. Previously, users would share a link to a GIF, which would load in a separate window. This adds GIFs below the text portion of the Tweet, similar to photographs. Wired notes that the GIFs in question are looping MP4 files, but that is splitting hairs.
GIFs are a popular part of Internet culture. Consider news/entertainment website Buzzfeed. Many of its viral posts include GIFs as a part of its lists, often illustrating the point of the text. GIFs also thrive on social media blogging platform Tumblr. Even Pinterest added the capability to support GIFs on its website early this year.
Adding GIFs adds another multimedia element to the traditionally text-heavy social media micro-blogging website, a trend that has drawn criticism from longtime Twitter users who claim recent updates make Twitter more like other social media platforms and less like itself. Recent updates have added additional photo capability to Twitter to the extent that some users criticized Twitter for trying to be Instagram. Short videos have been introduced to Twitter via Vine, but GIFs add short video clips that play endlessly on loop directly to Twitter, reported Mashable.
Twitter’s increasing multimedia capabilities are to help the social media platform compete with other options out there, many of which are similarly adding support for different types of multimedia. Twitter is trying to grow its 251 million user base. While this puts it ahead of Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, the company is still looking to add more users. This also gives Twitter an advantage over Facebook, which refuses to add support for GIFs to its platform so far.
So while posting GIFS sounds fun, just remember that support for the GIF may not exist on third-party Twitter apps like Hootsuite and TweetDeck, which some users use to post tweets for them during the day when they are busy. So if a user wants to post a GIF, the desktop version, iOS, or Android version of the Twitter app is the best way to do it.
Let the flood of pet, cartoon, and whatever else comes in GIF form begin. Some media outlets like The Washington Post’s The Intersect blog have started to put up lists of the best GIF accounts on Twitter.