giphy

Twitch streamers can now let viewers react with GIFs

Posted by | game streaming, Gaming, GIFs, giphy, streaming service, Twitch | No Comments

Giphy is coming to Twitch . For the first time, Giphy is bringing its library of animated GIFs to the Amazon-owned game streaming service. The company today is launching a Giphy extension for Twitch streamers that will allow viewers to react in real-time using GIFs during a broadcast. The idea is that GIFs could make streams more engaging and entertaining, which would, in turn, attract retain viewers for longer periods of time.

Twitch extensions were first introduced last year, but only recently did Twitch add support for running multiple extensions at once. That could encourage more developers to try out the Giphy extension, without having to give up their other favorite overlays.

To use the new extension, the streamer will first configure which part of the screen area will be used to display the GIFs viewers post. Once the extension is activated, viewers will be able to access it during a broadcast via a Giphy icon and the search terms they enter into the message bar.

Twitch is not the first game streaming site to experiment with GIF reactions. The newer site Caffeine had this as a feature, too, but pulled it before launch because they found it could be used for harassment. Twitch and Giphy are hoping to not make the sane mistake by curating the catalog of GIFs that can be shared.

According to Twitch, Giphy’s content is moderated to remove those GIFs that are “overtly offense” to any race, gender, ethnicity or community. It’s also limiting GIFs to those with a PG rating and below, which will prohibit users from posting GIFs with violence, sexual references, and other lewd terms, it says.

“Extensions are a great framework designed to make channels on Twitch more interactive so creators can better engage and retain their fans,” said Amir Shevat, Twitch VP of Developer Experience, in a statement. “With Giphy tapping into their extensive library of animated GIFs for their new Extension, it adds a fun and compelling new element to the social video experience that is sure to resonate with the current meme generation.”

Extensions are one of Twitch’s differentiating features in the game streaming market. Thanks to Twitch’s scale, there are now thousands of these add-ons and overlays in development, and over 250 which have gone live since the feature’s launch. Dozens of these, including Giphy’s, also work alongside others, allowing streamers to better customize their broadcasts and channels.

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Gfycat starts rolling out 360 degree GIF content

Posted by | Apps, Gfycat, giphy, Google, Mobile, Startups, Tenor | No Comments

GIFs offer a way to compress a ton of information into a small amount of space, and while Gfycat has positioned itself as more of a short-form video centric platform, it’s going to take a step further to see what a step beyond a standard GIF looks like.

The company today said it would be rolling out 360 degree GIF-like short form videos, which will allow users to plant themselves in the middle of what is effectively a looping video like a GIF. While that presents much more of a challenge to users for generating content, CEO Richard Rabbat said the proliferation of tools like 3D cameras and content from the actual producers like video studios would make it an increasingly popular way to interact with short-form content in a compact form factor.

“We’ve always thought that GIFs are amazing from many perspectives,” Rabbat said. “That goes beyond whether you’re looking at the content to use it in messaging, or you’re consuming it for entertainment value, or you’re using it for decoration in the case of the augmented reality effort we’re working on. We want people to really get excited about how they consume the content to the point where they can see the subjects of the content in a much more lifelike way, and really get excited about that.”

It’s not going to be all that unfamiliar from 360 degree videos you might find on Facebook or other platforms. Users on desktop can use their mouse to move a GIF around, while on mobile devices users can pan their phone around in order to see different parts of the GIF. The idea is to give users a way to have a more robust interaction with a piece of content like a GIF in a compact experience without having to strap on a VR headset or anything along those lines.

The company is starting off by rolling out some 360 degree content from Paramount, which is producing 360 degree content around its Mission Impossible films. And while a lot of content on Gfycat — or other platforms — comes from shows, movies or games along those lines, it makes more sense for those studios to use these kinds of tools to increase awareness for their shows or movies.

via Gfycat

There are a lot of companies working on figuring out the best messaging experiences around GIFs. But Google acquiring Tenor, a GIF search tool that works across multiple platforms, may have set a bare minimum bar for the value of companies that are looking to help users share GIFs with their friends. Gfycat positions itself as something that’s geared toward more creator tools, and recently said it hit 180 million monthly active users.

“We’re creating experiences that we think are going to enable others and inspire others to create that same kind of content,” Rabbat said.” We expect it’s going to be a subset of what people do with 2D, but a much more immersive experience where people will spend more time looking at the content. From a consumption perspective, by not requiring people to put on VR headsets, we’re making it much more consumer friendly.”

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Gfycat ramps up its focus on game clips and highlights as it hits 180M monthly users

Posted by | Apps, Gfycat, giphy, Mobile, Social, Startups, Tenor | No Comments

Gfycat is already a pretty popular host for lots of content like short clips from shows and movies, but there’s also a pretty substantial store of content centered around gaming — which is why the company is starting to put some extra focus on it.

Gfycat, which is centered around creator tools to make those short-form video clips and GIFs, said it’s going to create an interface specifically designed for gamers. Called “Gfycat for gaming,” the startup hopes to ride both the wave of ever-omnipresent GIFs getting shared around the internet and popular, highly shareable game titles like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Rocket League. GIFs serve as a pretty good vehicle for delivering highlight reel clips for those games, which is why it’s going to be putting some extra focus on that audience. Gaming is one of the most popular verticals on Gfycat, CEO Richard Rabbat said.

“As we were looking at different verticals, gaming is such a strong vertical, and we wanted gamers to get an experience that just really speaks to what they’re looking for,” he said. “We wanted to just focus on that as opposed to content that was much more mixed. You see a lot of teams or players that will play for hours, but that exciting moment was like 10 seconds or 20 seconds. They want to capture them and keep them, to chat about them, and share them.”

While the platforms are certainly a big component of this, creator tools for getting that content onto the Internet is also a pretty big segment. That’s what Gfycat focuses on, and the company says it has 180 million monthly active users, which is up from 130 million monthly active users in October last year. The service has more than 500 million page views every month, Rabbat said.

There are two changes that are coming with this update: first, there will be a direct home for gaming highlights on Gfycat, where users can follow creators in that area; second, the time limit for Gfycat clips is growing to around 60 seconds instead of just 15, which is a soft change the company made in the past few months. Both are geared toward making content more shareable in order to grab those highlights, which might not just fall into 15 second buckets. Down the line, the company will start working on subscribing to specific channel.

“A lot of gaming moments are created in 10 or 15 seconds,” Rabbat said. “Some of the gamers have been asking us for a longer period. We moved from 15 seconds to 60 seconds so people can share exciting experiences that take a little more time. GIFs are not only just a moment but also it’s a bit of storytelling. We wanted people to have the ability to do that storytelling.”

GIFs are already a big market, and there has even been some activity from the major players looking to dive further into that type of content. Earlier this month, Google acquired Tenor, a GIF platform that has its own keyboard and integrates with a variety of messenger services — even ones like LinkedIn. That a tool like Tenor or Giphy has grown to encompass all those messaging tools is just a further example of how much of an opportunity platforms centered around GIFs have.

The short-form video clips, as Gfycat likes to label them, are a good form factor for compressing a lot of information into a unit of content that’s easy to share among friends or an audience on the Internet. Rather than just sending a text message, a GIF can convey some element of emotion alongside just the typical information or response some user is trying to achieve. That’s led to a big boom for those companies, with Tenor hitting 12 billion GIF searches every month as an example.

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Snapchat brings back GIPHY after removal due to racist GIF

Posted by | Apps, GIFs, giphy, instagram, Mobile, Snapchat, Social, TC | No Comments

After a racial slur GIF caused Snapchat to remove its GIPHY sticker feature, Snapchat confirms to TechCrunch it’s reinstated its integration. GIPHY has apologized, fixed the bug that let the objectionable GIF slip through, and reviewed its GIF sticker library four times in an effort to guarantee that offensive content won’t end up in apps that embed it. Instagram had also removed GIPHY, but reinstated it last week with Snapchat saying it had nothing to share yet.

A Snap spokesperson told TechCrunch that over the past several weeks, the Snap team worked with GIPHY to revamp its moderation systems. Now Snap is confident that the fresh approach will protect users, so its brought the GIF stickers back. They let people embellish their photos and videos with overlaid animated illustrations and video clips.

So ends a month-long ordeal that started when a U.K. user spotted a GIF containing a racial slur for people of color. Snapchat removed the GIPHY feature as press backlash in the U.K. mounted. Instagram wasn’t aware of the issue until informed by TechCrunch, leading it to remove the GIPHY feature within an hour.

Warning: We’ve shared a censored version of the GIF below, but it still includes graphic content that may be offensive to some users.

The situation highlights the risks of working with outside developers that aren’t entirely under a platform’s control. Piping in external utilities lets apps quickly expand their offering to users. But if developers misuse people’s data, deliver broken functionality, or let objectionable content through, it can reflect poorly on the app hosting them. Facebook is currently dealing with this backlash surrounding Cambridge Analytica. Meanwhile, Instagram just severely restricted its APIs without warning, breaking many developers’ apps in what’s believed to be part of Facebook’s push to shore up data privacy.

Favoring news publishers, Snapchat historically never actively embraced developers, banning use of outside apps that require your Snapchat credentials. It’s more recently started letting devs build and promote their own augmented reality lenses. But after this set-back, we’ll have to see if Snapchat becomes any more reluctant to work with partners.

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Instagram reenables GIF sharing after GIPHY promises no more racism

Posted by | Apps, Developer, Drama, GIFs, giphy, instagram, Media, Mobile, racism, Snapchat, Social, Startups, TC | No Comments

A racial slur GIF slipped into GIPHY’s sticker library earlier this month, prompting Instagram and Snapchat to drop their GIPHY integrations. Now Instagram is reactivating after GIPHY confirmed its reviewed its GIF library four times and will preemptively review any new GIFs it adds. Snapchat said it had nothing to share right now about whether it’s going to reactivate GIPHY.

“We’ve been in close contact with GIPHY throughout this process and we’re confident that they have put measures in place to ensure that Instagram users have a good experience” an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch. GIPHY told TechCrunch in a statement that “To anyone who was affected: we’re sorry. We take full responsibility for this recent event and under no circumstances does
GIPHY condone or support this kind of content . . . We have also finished a full investigation into our content moderations systems and processes and have made specific changes to our process to ensure soemthing like this does not happen again.”

We first reported Instagram was building a GIPHY integration back in January before it launched a week later, with Snapchat adding a similar feature in February. But it wasn’t long before things went wrong. First spotted by a user in the U.K. around March 8th, the GIF included a racial slur. We’ve shared a censored version of the image below, but warning, it still includes graphic content that may be offensive to some users.

When asked, Snapchat told TechCrunch ““We have removed GIPHY from our application until we can be assured that this will never happen again.” Instagram wasn’t aware that the racist GIF was available in its GIPHY integration until informed by TechCrunch, leading to a shut down of the feature within an hour. An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch “This type of content has no place on Instagram.” After 12 hours of silence, GIPHY responded the next morning, telling us “After investigation of the incident, this sticker was available due to a bug in our content moderation filters specifically affecting GIF stickers.”

The fiasco highlights the risks of major platforms working with third-party developers to brings outside and crowdsourced content into their apps. Snapchat historically resisted working with established developers, but recently has struck more partnerships particularly around augmented reality lenses and marketing service providers. While it’s an easy way to provide more entertainment and creative expression tools, developer integrations also force companies to rely on the quality and safety of things they don’t fully control. As Instagram and Snapchat race for users around the world, they’ll have to weigh the risks and rewards of letting developers into their gardens.

GIPHY’s full statement is below.

CHANGES TO GIPHY’S STICKER MODERATION
Before we get into the details, we wanted to take a moment and sincerely apologize for the
deeply offensive sticker discovered by a user on March 8, 2018. To anyone who was affected:
we’re sorry. We take full responsibility for this recent event and under no circumstances does
GIPHY condone or support this kind of content.
The content was immediately removed and after investigation a bug was found in our content
moderation filters affecting stickers. This bug was immediately fixed and all stickers were re-
moderated.
We have also finished a full investigation into our content moderation systems and processes
and have made specific changes to our process to ensure something like this does not happen
again.

THE CHANGES
After fixing the bug in our content moderation filters and confirming that the sticker was
successfully detected, we re-moderated our entire sticker library 4x.
We have also added another level of GIPHY moderation before each sticker is approved into
the library. This is now a permanent addition to our moderation process.
We hope this will ensure that GIPHY stickers will always be fun and safe no matter where you
see them.

THE FUTURE AND BEYOND
GIFs and Stickers are supposed to make the Internet a better, more entertaining place.
GIPHY is committed to making sure that’s always the case. As GIPHY continues to grow, we’re
going to continue looking for ways to improve our user experience. Please let us know how we
can help at: support@giphy.com.
Team Giphy.

 

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Google is acquiring GIF platform Tenor

Posted by | Apps, Facebook, giphy, Google, Messenger, Mobile, Social, Startups, Tenor | No Comments

Google will be acquiring Tenor, which powers a variety of GIF keyboards on phones and messengers like Facebook Messenger, the companies announced today.

Tenor will continue to operate as a separate brand within Google, the company said in a blog post. Tenor has increasingly positioned itself as a search company, using that as a metric for engagement and success as users tap into a massive database of GIFs. The company said it has more than 12 billion searches every month, and is one of the first major exits for a small but relatively hot space around tools that allow users to easily share GIFs. The company works with advertisers to create sponsored GIFs that slot into its searches, which are usually pretty compact and offer an opportunity to generate a lot of engagement.

GIFs have increasingly been pretty interesting because they offer an opportunity to compress a lot of information into something that’s easily shareable. Tenor CEO David McIntosh will often say that the company is about conveying emotion — and really, that isn’t something that often goes very well over text. If you’re watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, you’re probably better off searching for a GIF of your team rather than just blasting a text message to your group of friends.

“With their deep library of content, Tenor surfaces the right GIFs in the moment so you can find the one that matches your mood,” Google Images director of engineering Cathy Edwards said. “Tenor will help us do this more effectively in Google Images as well as other products that use GIFs, like Gboard. Tenor will continue to operate as a separate brand, and we’re looking forward to investing in their technology and relationships with content and API partners. So whether you’re using the Tenor keyboard or one of our other products, you can expect to see much more of this in your future:”

When you open Tenor, you’ll only find a small slice of GIFs that are available as the company is looking to compress the amount of time you actually spending digging around for a GIF you want to share. The theory is that if it’s easier to find and share one, you’ll do it again and again. This isn’t dissimilar from Google’s approach either, offering itself as a utility that’s a quick get-in, get-out experience that builds a level of stickiness that’s hard to unseat. Google is, of course, worth hundreds of billions of dollars off the back of a massive advertising business that basically prints money.

Tenor isn’t the only one in the space. Giphy, for example, also has a GIF keyboard and has a pretty large database of GIFs. Giphy says it has 300 million daily active users, though depending on who you talk to in the Valley that can mean a couple different things. Nevertheless, all of these companies have been able to attract venture financing. There’s also Gfycat, which positions itself as a tool for creators, that says it has 130 million monthly active users.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. But by positioning itself as a search company that slots into a messaging ecosystem, Tenor seems like a natural piece of the puzzle for Google. It also gives the company a small wedge into the messenger space as it’ll have an opportunity to touch all the platforms that are connected to Tenor like even Facebook messenger, though that one tends to flip between GIF platforms indiscriminately.

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Snapchat adds GIF stickers via Giphy, plus new Friends and Discover screen tabs

Posted by | Apps, computing, digital media, giphy, instagram, Mobile, mobile software, photo sharing, snap inc, Snapchat, Social, social media, Software, sticker, TC | No Comments

 Snapchat is bringing one of the best recent features of Instagram Stories to its own app, with the ability to add GIF stickers from Giphy to your posts. This is a notable reversal of the typical pattern we’ve seen of Instagram cloning Snapchat features, but it’s a good one for users since GIF stickers for Stories are basically the greatest thing ever invented on social media. The… Read More

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