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Politicians and GIFs: A Terrible Mix?

Nothing like an animated political debate.

White House

Watch out, Washington has discovered GIFs.

House Judiciary Committee staffers horrified some (and delighted others) earlier this week when they issued a press release about immigration enforcement entirely composed of GIFs.

House Judiciary Committee

Days later, people were still talking about it on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/cannedsweettea/status/579039055368876032

https://twitter.com/evanasmith/status/579005440299700224

https://twitter.com/ral1sh/status/579107261592641536

https://twitter.com/jpwilloughby/status/579121779416788992

“GIF op-eds are being used more and more, including here in the halls of Congress,” said a House Judiciary aide in response to the criticism, adding that the committee is always trying to find new ways to “communicate our message to an increasing number of people.”

Indeed, this isn’t the first time a lawmaker or committee has used GIFs like this. Washington policy makers and PR people have increasingly been adopting a more BuzzFeed-like approach when trying to get a message out to people who generally ignore politicians.

House Speaker John Boehner’s staff used a collection of Taylor Swift GIFs to dump on the White House’s free community college idea earlier this year.

House Speaker John Boehner

House Energy and Commerce staffers used them two years ago to push for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

House Energy and Commerce Committee

The House Natural Resources committee also offered a listicle explaining why people shouldn’t skip their budget hearings.

House Natural Resources committee

Even the White House got in the act with a GIF-focused viral campaign devoted to getting people to sign up for health insurance via HealthCare.gov.

White House

Ironically, there was some debate online about whether the committee needed permission of the rights holders to use the GIFs or if those were covered under fair-use rules. The House Judiciary committee has jurisdiction over copyright and piracy issues.

https://twitter.com/charles_duan/status/579115892333797376

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.