Pinterest starts experimenting with gifs

New feature allows gifs to be played from inside pins, not yet clear if it will roll out to everyone

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 21, 2014
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(Updated to reflect confirmation from Pinterest)

I guess it was kind of inevitable. You have a social network whose entire gimmick is showing people pictures of stuff. After a while, the network starts to worry that maybe it might get a little boring for users. So they decide to spruce it up a bit. And how do they do that? By making the pictures animated.

That's right Pinterest lovers, get ready for an onslaught of gifs, as the social network has now begun a small rollout of a feature that lets users play them from within pins.

The feature was first noticed by the fashion search engine Wantering on Monday and Pinterest has since confirmed its existence to VatorNews.

We're always working on ways to help people discover and save the things they love, which can include animated GIFs.  We've heard from the community that they'd like the ability to post and view GIFs as Pins, so we're testing ways to make that happen. We don't have any other plans to announce," a Pinterest spokesperson said. 

That, of course, does not answer the central question: will this feature be rolled out to everyone? And if so, when? VatorNews has reached out to get the answer to these questions, and we will update if we learn more.

There is no guarantee of any of this ever making it to everyone who uses the service, of course. Social networks test features out all the time, even some really cool ones, only to drop them before they reach the masses. It is more than likely that Pinterest can't answer the question because it simply does not know yet.

So how will this feature work? I can imagine some people might dread the idea of a page full of gifs going off at once.

Thankfully, Pinterest understands how incredibly annoying that would be, and does not have the automatically play.  Instead, it allows the gifs to be started with “play” and “pause” buttons that have begun to appear in the bottom left corner of images for some users.

Gifs were always allowed on Pinterest, but, before, users had to click through and view them on the original source page. Otherwise, they looked the same as any other image on the site.

Pinterest, which was launched in 2010, has made a big impact in its relatively short life, getting a grip on the commerce angle that other social networks have had trouble grasping.

One in three online women now use Pinterest, compared to one in five in September 2012. In fact, people are now more likely to share things with each other on Pinterest than Facebook, LinkedIn or even e-mail.

People love gifs. They love sharing gifs with each other. Pinterest has to be hoping that adding them to the site will increase sharing among its users, which will lead to an increase in sales. 

Pinterest has raised a total of $338 million, including a $225 million round of funding, led by Fidelity Investments, in October.

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