Animated GIF files are not supported by Facebook, but users can now add embedded files that share some of the functionality of animated GIFs to their Timelines, thanks to animated GIF search engine Giphy.
Giphy announced in a post on its blog that users who share animated GIF files via its site can embed them to their Timelines with full functionality, and the company even created a reaction page for the news.
However, the files are actually converted GIF files that run within Flash wrappers. Giphy CEO Jace Cooke responded to Mashable’s question as follows:
What one shares via Giphy is indeed a GIF, while the embed solution does entail a Flash wrapper. This is indistinguishable from how a YouTube video is embedded. Would you call those not really video files simply because of that use of Flash?
Giphy Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Alex Chung was a little more forthcoming, telling Mashable:
Facebook does not support the GIF file format. It did at one point, but then it took out support for it. People have tried to “hack” this over the years, and Facebook has quickly fixed or removed the hacks.
We asked Facebook about GIF support, and it indicated that there are no current plans to support them natively, so we found a way to “embed” GIFs using supported Facebook application-programming interfaces. Giphy built and launched this on its own using these public APIs. We do this right now with a workaround that allows us to wrap all of our GIFs in a SWF or MP4 for playing within Facebook posts, Timeline, and comments.
You’re right: This is not native GIF format support, but it is the first time you’ve been able to find a GIF on the Internet and then get it to play on Facebook. We think that’s really awesome. We hope Facebook will support the GIF native format someday, and we are lobbying it to do so, but that is up to Facebook. Until then, this method is not a “hack,” but a legitimate approved Facebook publicly supported API.
Readers: Should Facebook support animated GIFs?