Twitter's "GIFs" are actually MP4s

Yesterday marked a moment in Twitter history that threw millions of users into a tizzy. After being requested by users over the past couple years, Twitter finally introduced the ability to post GIFs to its service.

But, as it turns out, Twitter isn’t actually sending out GIFs to millions of users, it's using MP4s. According to, which did some clever sleuthing, the service actually converts GIFs into MP4s. But why would Twitter do such a thing?

The main reason for this conversion process is efficiency. GIFs are an archaic file format that was originally introduced in 1989. found that during their tests, Twitter converted their 500kb GIF into a 100kb MP4. That’s a reduction in file size of 80%.

Now imagine that same reduction being applied to the hundreds of thousands of GIFs being shared across Twitter on a daily basis. Even more important is how these efficient MP4s will benefit mobile users that are on restricted data plans.

So as million of users assumedly upload GIFs to Twitter, you can feel good knowing that that what you are seeing is actually a highly compressed MP4.

Source: via TechCrunchImage via Twitter

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Animated webp support would have been nice. Mozilla doesn't want to add webp support though :( Lets hope that mozilla release an image format based on their upcoming daala video codec.

torrentthief said,
Since then mozilla made the decision not to add webp support.

Good, WebP is a pointless format.

JPEG-XR is better for still images, and for animation it'd be better to just support video files in <img> tags.

I see some people with animated GIFs as their icon/avatar. I have an animated GIF I'd like to use, but every attempt to upload it results in a plain old static image. Anyone have any idea how these people managed to get their icon/avatar to be an animated GIF, and have it stick, so it always animates?

there was an old trick for the ill fated geocities user, as yahoo would halt the data transfer for known images formats,

Some users uploaded their files with the extension changed from .gif to .txt,
it could bypass the initial checking and allowed the files to be downloaded without being censored by traffic monitoring program.

Yahoo then change their censoring by limiting the transfer quota.

I think that was a part of something that occurred a bit back. It cannot be done anymore. So essentially those that have it are grand fathered in...

"That's a reduction in file size of 400%"

No, that's a reduction of 80%. If you reduced 500kb by 400% you would end up with -1500kb.

No, that's a reduction of 80%. If you reduced 500kb by 400% you would end up with -1500kb.

Sure would like to download a couple trillion of those -1500 kb files...

1) It's not a standard, and it's support is not the most common (mp4 (h264) isn't strictly speaking a standard either, but it has both broad support, and is being looked at as an HTML5 standard for video, its competition is VP9/Opus or VP8/Vorbis wrapped in a limited version of MKV, commonly called WebM)
2) APNG is lossless and would likely take up more space and more bandwidth than the lossy mp4

And to be clear, #2 is going to be the bigger concern, as APNG is likely to be considered to be standardized (competition from MNG makes it not a sure thing, but APNG is better for backwards compatibility and ease of implementation) and if that push comes, then platform support with either grow, or have already grown

Edited by Sraf, Jun 20 2014, 5:07am :

Nobody really cares about MNG (Konqueror is the only browser that supports it, because Qt does), but the PNG group still seems to think it'll catch on one day so they're against APNG, so you see barely any support outside Mozilla for it (It's even patched out of IceWeasel for Debian).

APNG is still a bad fit for video though, it's meant for things like logos (Much like how you'd sue PNG instead of a GIF or JPEG image for a logo)