Four recent "mainstream" articles suggest an upward trend in the use of animated GIFs: Slate, Jezebel, Vice's Motherboard site, and Dazed and Confused, the last of which covers the topic in its December print issue, with the caption "Meet the techno freak kids employing an outdated animation technique to create radical future forms." That's pretty accurate except for the "outdated" part (minor quibble). The journalistic hook in all these articles is that GIFs became discredited and replaced by Flash and now they're back. That's not really true but is more dramatic than saying GIFs never went away, either as web design elements or on popular meme sites such as 4chan and YTMND, staying strong all through the 2000s. What did happen is that companies like Apple, Google and Facebook minimized GIF support (or never had it to begin with), so it seems like GIFs passed out of view to someone who uses only those products.
Update: One small correction so the post makes, um, more sense.