Two years ago, Twitter removed the ability to have an animated GIF as your avatar. Not wholesomely but for those who have never changed their animated GIF avatars since 2012 then h=things have been just fine. The catch was that if you change your avatar then you won’t be able to go back to your animated GIf again and that was that. Fast forward to two years later and the company is not really allowing animated GIFs as avatars but rather allowing users to post them inline. On the timeline.
— Twitter Support (@Support) June 18, 2014
Facebook has for a long time refused to cave in to pressure to introduce support for GIFs but Twitter now seems to have a leg up in this race. You can now share as many GIFs as possible. Whether it is that awkward face the baby makes when annoyed or that beautiful volley your favourite player just struck at the World Cup, you can post it all. The difference however is that technically, these are not GIFs. Yeah. While you’ll post a .gif file from your computer or smartphone or tablet, Twitter converts this to an MP4 file so the output is a .MP4 file complete with an embedded HTML5 video tag. So in short you just end up having a short video clip without sound. That should not be of concern to anyone though since Twitter can make do with some less bandwidth from the GIF flood that is coming its way.
The implentation is also superior. I actually don’t have to be worried that the naught GIF my friend shared will play automatically when I load my timeline. Instead, there is a play button which is what I need to press to get things going. A GIF is automatically played only when you click on that specific tweet (how I wish Instagram video worked that way!).
Since we’re in the spirit of GIFs, you may want to see this collection of GIFs from the Ellen De Generes hosted 2014 Oscars.