Bitstrips app floods Facebook feeds with comical friends

Posted at 5:29 PM, Nov 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-04 17:29:41-05

(CNN) — First, a popular Facebook trend replaced many of your friends’ profile photos with giraffes.

Now those same friends are being replaced with cartoon versions of themselves.

What, representing yourself with a good ol’ fashioned selfie not good enough anymore?

Those cartoons flooding your news feed come from Bitstrips.

So what exactly is Bitstrips? “Basically, it’s an app that turns you and your friends into a cast of cartoon characters,” the company’s chief executive and creative director, Jacob Blackstrock, told the Baltimore Sun. “Then you can take those characters and put them into crazy scenes.”

In the eternal quest to capture exactly how they are feeling at any moment and broadcast that sentiment to 500 of our closest friends — and that girl you met that one time at that thing your friend hosted — many have latched onto Bitstrips. The thousands of emojis out there are apparently incapable of satisfying the need to enlist janky graphics to properly convey the depth and nuance of our emotions.

Bitstrips are why your grown-up Facebook feed now looks like the wall of an elementary school’s art room.

Bitstrips’ free mobile app (which requires a Facebook login) is one of the most popular in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store, and its Facebook app claims more than 10 million monthly users.

It’s been around since 2008, but Bitstrips is having its big moment right now because it launched those iOS and Android apps just about a month ago. And it seems every single person using them is unable to resist the urge to tap that “Share” button beneath their comic masterpieces.

So if you really, really loved designing your Yahoo avatar back in 2004, or if you found 2011’s app fad of the moment, Draw Something, just too artistically demanding, then Bitstrips just might be the app for you.

Users are asked to build their avatars by selecting all of the usual physical features, including skin color, hair style and body shape. There’s even the unfortunately phrased direction to “pick your nose.” You can then place your digital doppelganger in any one of thousands of different, daily updated scenes. You can later include some Facebook friends in the cartoon, add a caption and share the image on various social networks.

Assuming, that is, that you can get the mobile app to work correctly. It’s received more than 11,000 reviews in Apple’s App Store and has an awful rating of 1.5 out of 5 stars, with almost all of the negative reviews coming as a result of people saying the app failed to function properly. On Facebook though, it’s all systems go — as you might have noticed.

Which segues nicely to the last — and perhaps for many you, most important — point: Yes, you can make all the Bitstrips disappear from your Facebook feeds.

To hide them from your news feed, fun-killer, the next time you see one, just click the gray, “Down” arrow in the top right corner of the status box. Select “Hide all from Bitstrips,” and you’ll be cartoon-free — but probably still drowning in giraffe photos.