The social network giant, Twitter has taken measures to prevent its members from posting animated PNGs. Indeed, some users have been using them to attack people suffering from epilepsy, attempting by flashes of light to provoke seizures.
The latest development was announced through a tweet. It follows a bug discovered concerning the autoplay of these PNG files.
Animated PNG Used To Target People With Epilepsy
If animated GIFs are very common, they suffer from some problems, namely a limitation to 256 colors. The animated PNG allow to drop this constraint and make moving images almost at the level of quality of short videos. They are becoming very popular, but problematic according to Twitter. These could be in use to cause seizures for people with epilepsy.
We recently found a bug that lets you add multiple animated images to a Tweet using Animated PNG files. APNGs ignore our safeguards and can cause performance issues for the app and your device. Today we’re fixing the bug which will no longer allow APNGs to animate when Tweeted.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) December 23, 2019
All these started due to a series of attacks targeted the Epilepsy Foundation last month. The hackers sent series of GIF images and videos displaying fast flashes of light to the account of the foundation as well as to thousands of its subscribers. So, if Twitter responds today by banning animated PNG, it is because, unlike animated videos and GIFs, PNG animation starts automatically, even when the parameters indicate otherwise.
It is therefore a radical solution to this bug that Twitter found by banning all animated PNGs. However, the network promises to look for an alternative. It is especially important to note that a Texas jury had considered an animated GIF as a weapon after a man had sent one to a journalist, thus causing him a crisis. Another case of hacking had taken place on a forum dedicated to epilepsy in 2011. Twitter perhaps doesn’t want to be complicit in these attacks by doing nothing.
“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” said Twitter.