UPDATE: This is a permanent change according to Spencer Hitchcock of Facebook who stated: “In our efforts to make News Feed an even more visual and engaging place to connect, we have been introducing new design updates in News Feed…” You can read the full statement from Facebook and the support thread here: Facebook Developer Support
Original Article follows
Up until a few days ago Facebook Social Media Managers could share a link to a GIF on their page and (often times) it would autoplay for users scrolling through the Facebook Newsfeed, much like a video does. This is no longer the case for seemingly all Facebook pages and according to Larry Kim is also impacting Facebook Ads that used GIFs.
As part of Winner Winner Chicken Dinner‘s content network Explore Media we run a page called Fails. The page curates fail videos, images, and GIFs sharing them from multiple sources including user submitted videos, Imgur, Gfycat, Giphy, and other places. We began noticing that none of the GIFs we had scheduled to post on this page were working on Friday of last week and started to investigate. We then noticed that GIFs were not autoplaying on our clients pages and experimented with posting GIFs to other pages in our network from a variety of sources, including direct links to GIFs not hosted at the big 3 GIF websites.
All of our efforts ended the same, with Facebook displaying a static box showing a thumbnail of the GIF and no label telling users that the image is a GIF.
This change appears to be retroactive as well impacting all GIFs ever posted to a page. We’ve gone back through our post history for numerous pages and found time and time again that the GIFs are all displayed in the same fashion, in a box with a thumbnail and no explanation.
There is a chance that this could be a bug. When posting a GIF at first we notice that it autoplays, but when the post is seen in the newsfeed or navigated to by other means the autoplay disappears.
This change does not impact personal accounts. All GIFs we tested on personal profiles of our team members autoplay correctly.
Worse yet, Facebook doesn’t appear to have made an announcement about this change with no mention of it anywhere on their official blog (another sign this could be a bug), leaving many Social Media Managers scratching their heads.
Update: I heard rumors that the GIFs posted using a link autoplayed on mobile. This is only true for the Page Manager app used by Social Media Managers. The GIFs do not autoplay via the mobile app on Android or iPhone or via a mobile web browser.