Twitter Blocks Animated PNGs After A Bunch Of Shitbirds Spend National Epilepsy Month Harassing Epileptics
from the you'll-never-go-broke-underestimating-the-quality-of-humans-on-the-internet dept
Assaulting someone with a tweet can be a criminal act. It takes a whole lot of specifics to make it a crime, but some asshole named John Rivello managed to do just that when he sent strobe gifs to Kurt Eichenwald and apparently sent him into a seizure.
Rivello did all of this under the horrible (and stupid) alias of @jew_goldstein. He also left behind a nice digital paper trial for investigators, which tied the account he used to send the strobe gifs to Eichenwald. Rivello may have used a Tracfone card to set up the accounts he used to harass Eichenwald, but these were all linked to his iPhone and his iCloud account, which helpfully included a photo of Rivello holding up his drivers license.
On top of that, investigators found a bunch of DMs to other Twitter accounts stating his intent to send Eichenwald into a seizure in hopes of killing him. So, it can be a crime to send strobe gifs to epileptics, but it takes a whole lot of work to make it a chargeable offense.
The Epilepsy Foundation is hoping law enforcement can find similar statements of intent elsewhere. During National Epilepsy Month, a bunch of people who are using far more oxygen than they deserve sent out hundreds of tweets containing strobe gifs and videos, utilizing the Foundation’s Twitter handle and related hashtags. The Foundation points out that only a small percentage of epileptics are photosensitive, but any triggered seizure can carry the risk of serious injury or death.
The Foundation’s post doesn’t say where these complaints have been filed or provide any other details. It obviously poses some First Amendment issues in that it’s asking for the prosecution of speech, but if there’s enough evidence indicating some of these dirtbags were actively seeking to harm other people, First Amendment concerns will be minimal.
This brings us to another attack vector, albeit one that wasn’t used in these attacks: animated PNGs. These series of images stitched together to form an animated whole would allow harassers to route around protections photosensitive epileptics used to protect themselves, like preventing autoplay of video or gif content. Twitter may not be able to do much to prevent the uploading of video and gifs containing strobe images, but it can block APNGs, which is what it is now doing.
Twitter is banning animated PNG image files (APNGs) from its platform, after an attack on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter account sent out similar animated images that could potentially cause seizures in photosensitive people.
Twitter discovered a bug that allowed users to bypass its autoplay settings, and allow several animated images in a single tweet using the APNG file format.
The APNG bug has been exploited in the past, mainly to animate avatars. It apparently was not used to target epileptics during this particularly nasty exhibition of human nature, but degenerates who may have considered it a future option no longer have this exploit to work with.
No doubt someone with too much time and not enough moral fiber will find some other way to attempt to provoke seizures using nothing more than 1s and 0s, but for now, the most popular options are either closed off by built-in options or Twitter’s brand new APNG blockade.