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Facebook celebrates the GIF’s 30th birthday by making the format usable in comments

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Happy birthday to the GIF! The venerable file format turns 30 today, and Facebook is taking the opportunity to add a few GIF-related features to its service. Users could already post GIFs in status updates, but from June 15th, you’ll now be able to add GIFs in Facebook comments, allowing you to search through and select from a list of relevant files right there in the social network’s interface.

Facebook is also using the day to salute the surprisingly resilient format, throwing what it calls a “GIF party,” and offering statistics on its existing GIF usage. More than 13 billion GIFs were sent last year via Facebook Messenger, it says, after the company made the format usable on the chat service. The busiest day for GIFs was apparently January 1st this year, with more than 400 million sent, as hungover people across the globe let a short moving image do the legwork of expressing their friendship and love for them.

More worryingly, Facebook is also using the day to re-open the fractious debate about GIF pronunciation — hard or soft G — with a poll for US-based users. It’s a decision that may turn friend against friend and tarnish what should otherwise be a happy day, but we may finally work out what the people want, no matter what the format’s creator says.