My obnoxious animated Twitter avatar has lost me a few dozen followers, at least. Some are even people I work with. But I stuck with it, because it felt good — it was a low-level, slow-burn, zero-maintenance troll. It was a harmless throwback to a time when the internet was rougher and weirder; a sloppy piece of graffiti posted in the middle of a clean, controlled bastion of the new internet.
My avatar still moves. New uploads, however, do not. The animated GIF avatar isn't quite dead, but it appears to have been sentenced to death.
This was a long time coming. Animated GIFs don't display in most Twitter apps, including the official clients for iPhone, Android and Mac OS. They do display in Tweetdeck and on Twitter's website, but they've been officially unsupported for years, according to Twitter's support pages, which say this:
All existing animated GIF images will be left as they are, but no new ones can be uploaded.
This "rule" wasn't firm for a long time — there were ways around it, at least — but now it seems the site has made good on its promise.
Recently, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo — who I'm fairly sure actually blocked me because of my dumb avatar — expressed his dislike for gifs:
This was the avatar we made him. He didn't use it 🙁
The latest Twitter update, which lets you post customized banners, does not support GIFs in the new space. And as of today, animated avatar uploads are freezing. A search for "animated avatars" on Twitter most turned up people complaining about existing avatars, and even a few wishing for a ban. But others were noticing the same issue:
Twitter could not be reached for comment, but this seems like it's probably final. If you have a cool animated 'tar, do not change it.
Now, let us mourn the only way we know how: