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For Mobile Messaging, GIFs Prove to Be Worth at Least a Thousand Words

For Mobile Messaging, GIFs Prove to Be Worth at Least a Thousand Words

Lucy Dikeou, a 21-year-old senior at Stanford University, has long used English and the pictorial images known as emoji to text on her iPhone. A few months ago, she started messaging in a third language: GIFs.

When Ms. Dikeou recently wanted a friend to stop sending her pictures of food, she responded with a GIF — an animated image known as a graphics interchange format — of Christina Aguilera rolling her eyes, waving her hand and soundlessly mouthing “PLEASE STOP.” Ms. Dikeou’s mobile messages are now often textless, replaced by clips of Harry Potter applauding, or excited toddlers opening birthday presents. Her favorite one features the ensemble cast of “Seinfeld” elatedly dancing, which she sent upon hearing that a friend was coming into town.

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