Now, say that ten times fast. Why? Because when a venerable social media site the likes of Mashable gets it wrong, based on an assertion made by the venerable American clothier, the GAP - it's fun to call them out on a bonefide gaffe that went public.
Confused? OK, let's back this truck up just a wee bit. For anyone who knows what a GIF is -- you've probably seen them prominently displayed as update statuses on Google+ - but not on Facebook. Why? Because Facebook maintains a very regimented guideline based that requires a certain design aesthetic - and in their all-knowing way of looking at the world, a GIF would upset that apple cart, so to speak!
Also the animated GIF requires a lot of cache space on Facebook's servers and it becomes very hard to manage the errors when there is a a lot of mishandled cache to deal with.
A little history. . .
The animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) has been around for years. In the early days, it was a way to send moving images in a low resolution format. Compuserve introduced the first GIF in 1987 that supported up to 8 bits per pixel allowing it to create 256 colors. The two GIF variations around today are the the 87a which works with images and the 89a which supports animation.
Sample 87a Image GIF
Google+, on the other hand
As many of us have learned, Google+ is awash in GIFs today that come in all shapes and sizes and often focus on slapstick comedy bits, animation, and scenic eco-friendly nature scenes. Aside from the quick-down-and-dirty copy and paste technique, as testimony to their desire to offer a popular feature their competitor FB lacks, the Google+ team has even developed a special tool called "Auto Awesome" that allows users to create their own GIFs from a series of photos.
But I digress. . .
What does this have to do with Mashable and the Gap making a public gaffe? Well, as the story goes, the social media news site apologized in a blog, titled, "Sorry, Facebook Does Not Support Animated GIFs" that they were duped when they reported earlier that Facebook was going to finally support GIFs.
Lance UlanoffTheir news correspondent Lance Ulanoff was apparently assigned to fall on the sword for the website by declaring that what Giphy was really providing on Facebook was something other than animated GIFs.
Apparently the GAP was also under the wrong impression when they posted this to their FB fan page: “Click below to watch our first GIF on Facebook."
The Gap's FB Page
In reality, what the GAP was working with was a Flash image. To which, Ulanoff stated: "I wish we’d realized this sooner. Mashable was among the many sites that proclaimed the GIF is back on Facebook. Sorry about that."
The Gap's Flash image
At the end of the day, the irony here is not the gaffe (even though as I mentioned earlier, it's fun to poke fun at Mashable and the GAP for getting the story wrong) -- the irony is that in Mark Zuckerberg's effort not to replicate some of the mistakes that MySpace allowed in its early days (a mishmash of formats including GIFs that eventually made the site aesthetically unappealing) - he's missed the boat on GIFs.
In turn, perhaps because Google+ maintains larger servers than FB to handle the load - the window of opportunity opened wide enough to supply Google+ with a slight competitive edge. And perhaps that coupled with their Hangouts, and their cross-platform seamless connections with Gmail will be enough for Google's social network to someday eclipse Facebook, as has been predicted by a recent SearchMetrics study. There, it's been projected that Google+ will pass Facebook in social shares by February 2016. So, dear reader, was that GIF, the Gaffe that broke the FB camel's back? Weigh in, and let us know your thoughts?