Although GIF is technically just an image format not unlike JPG, PNG, and BMP, its built-in ability to support animations has made it synonymous with creative, ridiculous, and sometimes entertaining forms of expression. It has also become one of the biggest vehicles of such expression on social networks like Facebook. In gratitude and in celebration of the image format’s 30th birthday this 15th of June, Facebook is giving out some GIFy treats while also contemplating one of the biggest mysteries of the universe: how to pronounce GIF.
The 13 billion GIFs sent via Facebook Messenger last year alone pales in comparison to the number of GIFs sent over the Internet for the past three decades. And yet today we are still unsure how to pronounce it, whether with a hard “g” or a soft one. That’s all thanks to the idiosyncrasies of the English languuage. That said, its creators from CompuServe supposedly called it “jif”, after the peanut butter brand. But that’s not going to stop a good debate.
Of course, Facebook is doing more than citing stats or asking critically important questions on GIF’s anniversary. We’re here for a birthday party after all. So in commemoration of that, Facebook is flipping the switch and enabling commenters on Facebook posts to also reply in GIFs. Let a thousand GIFs bloom. Whether you like it or not.
But a party won’t be a party without crazy partygoers. And so Facebook enlisted the help of GIPHY Studios, who, in turn, enlisted the help of Internet personalities, to put on their best party face. Or dance.