Let's Get Real: GIFs on Facebook Aren't Really GIFs

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Giphy, the creator of the GIF search engine, has created a work around that promises to bring the animated file format to the social network, but fails to deliver. Facebookers can indeed share GIFs with their friends — as long as they come from Giphy. Head on over to the company's GIF Reaction Page — which organizes the looping images by emoticon, as pictured above — and the site offers a whole bunch of sharable GIFs. All you have to do is find the one you're looking for and either click the Facebook icon or copy and paste the URL into the Facebook status box. That's the easy (and wonderful) part. Issues, however, arise once the image shows up on the page.

Unlike a GIF on Tumblr or within a blog post, Giphy's GIFs don't autoplay. They initially show up static, like this:

To get the image loop started you have to click through, which defeats the purpose of the GIF as a reaction to something, its primary purpose these days. The click creates a barrier to entry that internet users are simply not become accustomed to with both GIFs and other looping formats, like Vines, which play without any prompting. Even worse, it takes a few seconds for the GIF to get going; a Facebook post shows the following screen before the animation begins:

Giphy reps have yet to comment. Update 12:00 p.m.:  Giphy explains the delay: "Facebook currently doesn't support AutoPlay for embeds," a spokesperson told The Atlantic Wire. "But this is definitely an issue that we're working to solve."  That said, we welcome the effort — for a hack, it works well enough.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.