You may have noticed an odd new trend over the past couple of months on some of largest meme-sharing Facebook pages.
Run a quick search on “split memes” on Twitter, Reddit, or Facebook, and you’ll find dozens of posts spanning the past two months from people all being driven crazy. The memes on Facebook are being split in two!
Am I the only one that’s irritated that the memes on Facebook are videos split in half? Like wtf why
— lyssaaaaa✨ (@alyssacraig_16) June 12, 2018
Whoever started the trend of Facebook photos/memes split down the middle honestly deserves to fall down a flight of stairs
— Twenty Struggles (@twentystruggles) June 2, 2018
why are all these memes on facebook cut in half?? i want answers
— Ty Garibay (@TyGaribay) May 30, 2018
So why are all those Facebook memes cut in half?
The reason behind the split in the memes is twofold: it’s an attempt by Facebook page owners to game Facebook’s News Feed algorithm and to stop people from stealing their memes.
What you’re actually looking at in this weird new meme format is in fact two separate Facebook images in an album. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find that the top half of the meme is actually a video. Sometimes, depending on the meme, you’ll have to click through to even tell that the top half is a video because it simply contains a static image throughout, indecipherable from the bottom half photo part of the meme. Other times, you’ll find that there are shapes or other transparent images, dubbed by various online communities as “the floaty things,” moving around over the static image in the video and the video component is more obvious.
Facebook page Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons boasts over six and a half million likes. Here’s an example of one of their split meme posts:
With over 3 million likes, here’s Female Thoughts, which seemingly now just posts split meme after split meme:
And The Meaning of Life’s Facebook page, with over a million followers, also posts split memes all day.
There are even a few small Facebook pages dedicated to mocking the meme format. These pages post just the bottom halves of the split meme without the often necessary context contained in the top half.
Many prominent Facebook meme page owners find themselves engaging in a constant battle with Facebook, because the social network is constantly changing its News Feed algorithm. Page owners were discovering that meme photos were no longer viewed as favorable content by Facebook, which began prioritizing video content in users’ feeds.
In order to keep pumping out the viral content, without any additional work, the meme page owners discovered they could game the system by just converting these static photos into videos.
Earlier this year, Taylor Lorenz of The Daily Beast looked at this static photo meme to video trend just as Facebook caught on. They updated the algorithm and the meme page owners quickly discovered a brand new workaround: “the floaty things.”
Apparently, Facebook’s algorithm update could detect a lack of motion in the videos that were nothing but static photo memes, and would view them as spammy content. As a result, the posts wouldn’t perform well.
To solve this conundrum, enterprising Facebook page owners found they could simply add an overlay of various floating shapes. With that, the static photo meme videos were back to being in the Facebook algorithm’s good graces.
Among the chatter between Facebook page administrators online, it seems the Facebook algorithm has made another change. This time around, Facebook is prioritizing photo albums that include video. The consensus is that Facebook now prefers albums because it allows for multiple interactions – one can comment, like, and view each individual photo or video – in one post. The extra advantage to having the video in the album is due to the fact that the videos autoplay, pumping up the view count of the post.
So, the Facebook meme page owners rinse and repeat. Take some old static photo meme format that’s simple to make and has proven popular with Facebook users, cut it in half, convert the top half to video, upload them together as an album in one post, and there you have it: the birth of the split meme.
But there’s another benefit to Facebook page owners: Split memes make it harder to steal memes. This belief is echoed within the split meme complaints found online. With split memes, one can’t simply rip the meme as a single photo to easily create a post of their own. It forces users to share the actual post from the Facebook page itself.
Anyone else super fucking annoyed with how “photos” on Facebook are being shared in like cut in half videos? I can’t fucking save any memes.
— Bonquisha ♡ (@Courtenay96) June 3, 2018
Split memes are the very embodiment of what’s wrong with content on the web: creations that are solely based on algorithms and hoarding the most clicks. Of course, until Facebook’s algorithm changes yet again, it looks like split memes are here to stay. One last workaround to float, one that’ll possibly solve the problem for good, is to stop sharing these terribly corny memes altogether.
Mashable has reached out to Facebook for comment on this new trend. We will update this story if and when we hear back.