Facebook has been testing a new GIF button for the last few months, and it has now rolled it out to all users to commemorate 30 years of the GIF (graphics interchange format). The social network added support for GIFs a couple of years ago, but the process of posting them in Facebook comments was more convoluted — until now.

facebook comments gif button
Simon / Pixabay

GIF button added to Facebook comments

The GIF was created by CompuServe 30 years ago today, if you can believe it, and it has certainly livened up the Internet and made up much more fun and visual. Starting today, the GIF button that was added to Facebook comments for some users a few months ago is available to all users. The social networking giant had been testing the GIF button with a limited collection of users.

At first, the button may go unnoticed by many users because it’s just sort of tucked in between the photo and sticker icons on the Facebook comments. Clicking on the GIF button in Facebook comments enables users to search a variety of GIFs from various services such as Tenor, Imgur or Giphy. After typing a word or phrase into the search box, users can then scroll through the different options that match it. Desktop users will be able to scroll through some GIFs that are trending, although mobile users don’t have access to trending GIFs.

The button makes it much easier to actually post the fun animations in Facebook comments because users no longer have to post the URL of a GIF that’s hosted by a GIF platform. It was somewhat easier to post GIFs in Facebook comments on the desktop browser, but doing so on mobile devices was quite convoluted before the GIF button was added.

Why Facebook hesitated to support GIFs

At this time, the GIF button is only available in Facebook comments, but it’s possible that the company will roll it out to News Feed posts eventually. The social networking giant has seemed very hesitant to support GIFs, as it only added support for them two years ago, and according to TechCrunch, the hesitance was because of the impact GIFs would have on the News Feed. They certainly add motion to the News Feed, and the company seems to have been concerned about it causing headaches from people posting too many GIFs.

Adding a GIF button to Facebook comments is a way for the company to sort of dip its toe in the water to test the impact of having lots of GIFs. If the result ends up creating too much of a visual headache, the company probably will be less likely to add support to News Feed posts. It seems that users’ embracing of the moving images has essentially made it impossible for Facebook to keep ignoring them.

Marking the 30th anniversary of the GIF

Also in honor of the GIF’s 30th anniversary, Facebook revealed some major milestones of using the moving pictures on its social networks. The company said that over the last year, almost 13 billion GIFs were sent through Messenger, which amounts to almost 25,000 each minute. Facebook added that the number of GIF sends on Messenger has tripled over the last year, and New Year’s Day 2017 was the most popular day ever for sending GIFs on Messenger, as there were more than 400 million GIF sends.