Twitter has banned the use of animated PNG files, a format similar to GIF, on its platform. The social network claims that it discovered a flaw in the platform that allowed the publication of multiple animated images in a single publication. The measure wants to ensure the safety of users who are most sensitive to fast moving images or bright light, especially those suffering from epilepsy.
The decision comes after the Epilepsy Foundation revealed that hackers were using the type of files in question to carry out bullying campaigns that could endanger the lives of users with photosensitive epilepsy. Over the course of November, which is considered the epilepsy awareness month in the United States, a group of hackers published a series of animated strobe lights PNG files on Twitter, tagging them with the Epilepsy Foundation username and hashtags. .
"Lights that glow at a certain intensity or certain visual patterns can cause attacks in individuals suffering from photosensitive epilepsy," explains Jacqueline French, MD, a member of the US NGO. in press release. She points out that "the population with this kind of sensitivity is small", however the impact of hacking is very serious. The NGO filed a complaint with the authorities to find the culprits behind the cyber attack.
The action taken by Twitter may in part protect users who are most sensitive to fast moving images or bright light, but making the platform a completely safe space can be a tricky task. Recall that this is not the first case in which animated images are published that can endanger the lives of individuals.
In 2016, Kurt Eichenwald, a journalist with photosensitive epilepsy, reportedly received a message via Twitter that contained a GIF with strobe lights, something that led to his strong attack. The attacker was later captured by the FBI and tried for the crime.