Twitter has banned the use of animated PNG image (APNG) files on its short messaging platform, following targeted attacks on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter account which used images that could potentially cause seizures in photosensitive individuals.
Twitter says it discovered a bug that allowed users to bypass the platform’s autoplay settings, enabling several animated images to be attached to a single tweet using the APNG format.
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
The attacks on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter account took place back in November, which was National Epilepsy Awareness Month. It isn’t known how many folks might have been affected by the scummy attacks, which used strobing light effects for malicious intents.
The Epilepsy Foundation has filed criminal complaints against the Twitter accounts believed to have been responsible for the attacks. Hopefully, prosecutors will be able to throw the book at the lowlifes.
Twitter says that it has no proof APNG files were used in the attacks, but since they had the potential to be harmful, they had to be banned.
Twitter also notes that APNGS use up a lot of data, and could be a direct cause of app crashes. From now on, the only animated images allowed on the service will be GIFs.
Twitter also notes that it would be looking for ways to add alt-text to GIFs, to allow them to be more accessible to users that depend on screen readers to navigate the internet.