Why Did You Post That GIF? Understanding Relationship between User Identity and Self Expression through GIFs on Social Media


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Virginia Tech


GIFs afford a great degree of personalization as they are often created from popular movie and video clips, with diverse and real characters, each expressing a nuanced affect state through a combination of characters' own unique bodily gesture and distinctive visual background. This highly personalized and embodied property gave us an unique window to explore how individuals represent and express themselves on social media, through the lens of GIFs they use. In this study, we explore how do Twitter users express their gender and racial identities through that of characters in gifs. We conducted a behavioral study (n=398) to simulate a series of tweeting and gif picking scenario and we found that gender and race identities have significant impact on users' choice of GIFs and that source familiarity and perceived audience also have significant impacts on whether a user will choose race and gender matching GIFs.



Social Media, Animated GIFs, Online Identity, Race, Gender