Twitter has now banned animated PNG image files (APNGs) from its platform, after an alleged attack on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter account sent out similar animated images that could potentially cause seizures in photosensitive people.
The microblogging platform 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.
We want everyone to have a safe experience on Twitter.— Twitter Accessibility (@TwitterA11y) December 23, 2019
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
Tweets with existing APNG images won’t be deleted from the platform, but only GIFs will be able to animate images moving forward.
According to Yahoo, Twitter has further clarified that APNG files were not used to target the Epilepsy Foundation, but the bug meant that such files could have been used to do so in the future had Twitter not moved to squash it, reports the American technology news and media network theverge.com.
The attacks on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter handle occurred last month — National Epilepsy Awareness Month — with trolls using its hashtags and Twitter handle to post animated images with strobe light effects.
It’s not clear how many people might have been affected by the attack, but the foundation said it’s cooperating with law enforcement officials and has filed criminal complaints against accounts believed to have been involved.