The dark side of social media was once again on display last month when trolls took to Twitter to assault people who suffer from epilepsy. What’s worse is the trolls timed their attacks with Epilepsy Awareness Month, which takes place every November.
The Epilepsy Foundation has revealed that it has filed criminal complaints with U.S. law enforcement after a string of GIFs and videos that showed strobing or flashing lights were posted by other Twitter users to its Twitter feed. What’s worse is the attackers used The Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter handle and common hashtags to call attention to their posts containing the malicious media.
In a statement, Allison Nichol, director of legal advocacy for The Epilepsy Foundation, said:
Twitter is one of the largest places of public gathering that exists today. These 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 to the participants. The fact that these attacks came during National Epilepsy Awareness Month only highlights their reprehensible nature. The Foundation is fully cooperating with law enforcement and intends to utilize all available avenues to ensure that those responsible are held fully accountable.
The Epilepsy Foundation says that of all epilepsy sufferers, about 3% suffer from photosensitive epilepsy, which would make them vulnerable to the attack. There are currently about 3.4 million people in the U.S. that have some form of epilepsy.