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A Charity's Twitter Feed Was Hacked. Then, Flashing Lights

Cyberattack against epilepsy group came during National Epilepsy Awareness Month
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2019 10:05 AM CST

(Newser) – The Epilepsy Foundation has filed criminal complaints after hackers targeted the charity's Twitter followers with seizure-inducing videos. Flashing and strobing videos and GIFs were sent to some 30,000 followers as part of a cyberattack last month, according to a release. Indeed, the New York Times describes 30 attacks in the first week of November. "The attacks ... deliberately targeted the feed during National Epilepsy Awareness Month when the greatest number of people with epilepsy and seizures were likely to be following the feed," the charity says.

The foundation's director of legal advocacy tells the Times the attacks are "no different than a person carrying a strobe light into a convention of people with epilepsy and seizures, with the intention of inducing seizures and thereby causing significant harm." It's unclear how many people viewed the tweets, or if anyone suffered a seizure. A Twitter rep tells CNN that followers have "the option of preventing media from autoplaying in their Timelines." About 3% of people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy, making them susceptible to flashing lights, per the BBC. (A journalist suffered a seizure in a similar attack.)

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