Why You Haven’t Seen GIFS on Instagram Stories and Snapchat
Instagram Stories and Snapchat posts are entertaining vignettes into the lives of people you think you know and others who live far away. When you click to watch, you’re transported somewhere else and get to share in the moment or a snicker. The fun skyrockets with added stickers and GIFs.
Last week, your passport from boredom and your glimpse into the lives of loved ones were taken away when the Giphy feature was nowhere to be found on either app. Why?!
Cue the angst. It’s like one minute there was cake, and then, it vanished when you just got a taste. What the heck happened? As shocking and dismaying as that was, the reason these features went the way of Elvis is even more disturbing.
Unfortunately, scientists are still working on the rocket to transport racists to the fiery surface of Venus to better understand what universal love means. And, unfortunately, Giphy was removed because of a racist GIF discovered by a user while in the GIF library.
Appearing on both apps, the racist GIF proclaimed “N****r Crime Death Counter — Keep Cranking Bonzo, the Numbers Just Keep on Climbing!” A number ticker and game show host were in the background, adding to the shameful display.
Shortly after the discovery, Giphy removed the offending GIF. TechCrunch published a statement released to them from Giphy, which said
“A user discovered an offensive GIF sticker in our library, and we immediately removed it per our content guidelines. After investigation of the incident, this sticker was available due to a bug in our content moderation filters specifically affecting GIF stickers. We have fixed the bug and have re-moderated all of the GIF stickers in our library. The GIPHY staff is also further reviewing every GIF sticker by hand and should be finished shortly. We take full responsibility for these recent events and sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended.”
Giphy is still investigating how the GIF got into the library in the first place, but it likely sneaked in among a flood of other non-offensive GIFs. All GIFs are supposed to be rated PG-13, suitable for only those who are technically allowed on these social media sites. While such slurs and content are forbidden, the GIF library functions like a search engine and indexes top GIFs online — unfortunately, this one slipped through moderation.
Instagram paused interaction with Giphy for now, and Snapchat removed Giphy from their application. Giphy intends to stay on the case until the issue is resolved with finality. No GIFs until then.
Instagram’s Giphy integration launched as of late January, and Snapchat constructed their first integration in late February. Just as users got used to having GIFs around to enhance their sharing experience, it was ripped from them because of racism and a tech bug.
Human Hearts Win When Tech Fails
Giphy’s quick action to remove the racist GIF is admirable in a time that the nation deals with accelerated violence surrounding race and gender identity and protest and debate over gun control.
Though, it’s not the first time that such social media sites have had to deal with these slip-ups. Public outcry has had to bring violating content to social media giant attention before. In 2016, Snapchat was under fire when a filter promoting yellowface released and allowed users to manipulate their own faces into stereotypical caricatures of Asians. Snapchat indicated the filter aimed to focus more on anime features, but it clearly failed.
In the 2016 incident, one Twitter user wondered why the whole feature was removed due to one GIF, while others were ready to remove Snapchat altogether. The answer is: yes. The whole feature needs to be taken away for a while because that one GIF not only goes against the guidelines, but it promotes hate — your privilege can pause.