Twitter aims to ban animated PNG picture files (APNGs) on its platform, following an assault on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter account that delivered related animated photographs that may trigger seizures in photosensitive people.
A bug that bypassed the autoplay settings on the platform, and allows several APNGs in one tweet making use of the APNG file format was found on the platform.
We want everyone to have a safe experience on Twitter.
APNGs were fun, but they don’t respect autoplay settings, so we're removing the ability to add them to Tweets. This is for the safety of people with sensitivity to motion and flashing imagery, including those with epilepsy. https://t.co/Suogtrop1u
— Twitter Accessibility (@TwitterA11y) December 23, 2019
“We want everyone to have a safe and better experience on Twitter,” the company said in a tweet from the Twitter Accessibility handle. Also, it said, “APNGs were fun, but they don’t respect autoplay settings, so we’re removing the ability to add them to Tweets. This is for the safety of people with photosensitivity, including those with epilepsy”.
Tweets with existing APNGs won’t be deleted from the platform. Only GIFs will be able to animate pictures. According to Yahoo, Twitter clarified that Epilepsy Foundation was not targetted by using APNG files, but there is a chance that those files may be used to do so in the future.
The attack on the Epilepsy Foundation has occurred last month as it was epilepsy awareness month. Trolls used Epilepsy foundation’s Twitter handle and its hashtags to post APNGs with flashing light effects. It is not clear about the number of people affected by these attacks. The foundation said that it has filed a criminal case against those whose accounts are believed to be involved in these attacks.
A Texas Jury in 2016 found that an animated GIF could be a lethal weapon after a man sent an APNG to journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who is suffering from epilepsy. This animated GIF almost seized journalist Kurt Eichenwald.
Twitter said, “On Monday we will check the matter and will build a similar attribute which makes a better Twitter experience.”