The link rot spreads: GIF-hosting site Gfycat shutting down Sept. 1


Array of GIFs on Gfycat website
Enlarge / A myriad of ways one might react to Gfycat’s closure, trending on Gfycat itself at the moment.


The Internet continues to get a bit more fragmented and less accessible every week. Within the past seven days, Reddit finished its purge of third-party clients, Twitter required accounts to view tweets (temporarily or not), and Google News started pulling news articles from its Canadian results.

Now there’s one more to add: Gfycat, a place where users uploaded, created, and distributed GIFs of all sorts, is shutting down as of September 1, according to a message on its homepage.

Users of the Snap-owned service are asked to “Please save or delete your Gfycat content.” “After September 1, 2023, all Gfycat content and data will be deleted from”

Gfycat rose as a service during a period where, like Imgur, it was easier to use than any native tools provided by content sites like Facebook or Reddit. As CEO and co-founder Richard Rabbat told TechCrunch in 2016, after raising $10 million from investors, GIFs were “hard to make, slow to upload, and when you shared them, the quality wasn’t very good.” Gfycat created looped, linked Webm videos that, while compressed, retained an HD quality to them. They were easier to share than actual GIF-format files and offered an API for other sites to tap in.

“I see Gfycat as the ultimate platform for all short-form content, the way that YouTube is the platform for longer videos and Twitter is the platform for text-based news and media discussions,” VC funder Ernestine Fu told TechCrunch in 2016, long before TikTok, YouTube shorts, and Elon Musk’s Twitter ownership came to pass.

Signs of trouble at Gfycat popped up in May when an expired certificate led to cascading downtimes and inaccessibility for up to five days.

As with Imgur and other services that have hung around long enough, Gfycat itself won’t be a destination site many users will miss when it goes. But the short-form videos, reaction GIFs, and other content it hosts will become broken context for many forum threads and online discussions, including, of course, currently archive-challenged Reddit and Twitter.

Gfycat hasn’t been in the news much since its launch, beyond its outage. But it had a surprising guest appearance in Meta’s purchase-then-sale of Giphy in 2022. The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)—the same one trying to put the brakes on Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition—was concerned that a Meta/Giphy combination would dominate the GIF marketplace, such as it exists, and eliminate access for Meta’s competitors.

On an appeal, a UK court ruled that the CMA had failed to consider that Snapchat parent company Snap had acquired Gfycat in 2017 after failing to purchase Giphy for less than half the $315 million Meta offered.

As part of its arguments to the CMA, Giphy essentially downplayed the GIF economy. GIFs had “fallen out of fashion as a content form, with younger users in particular describing gifts as ‘for boomers’ and ‘cringe,'” Giphy told the CMA (PDF). It is, seemingly, not a bad time to get out of the GIF game.


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