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Twitter user arrested for sending seizure-inducing GIF

A still from the infamous Pokemon episode "Electric Soldier Porygon," which caused a number of photosensitive seizures in Japan
A still from the infamous Pokemon episode "Electric Soldier Porygon," which caused a number of photosensitive seizures in Japan

The New York Times reports that a Twitter user has been arrested by the FBI, in connection to an image that was sent to Newsweek senior writer and Vanity Fair editor Kurt Eichenwald in late 2016, with the successful intention of causing him to have a seizure. The image contained flashing lights and the phrase “You deserve a seizure for your posts,” and was directed toward Eichenwald—who’s written openly about his epilepsy a number of times over the years—shortly after he appeared on TV to mock Donald Trump.

The image was sent by a Twitter poster operating under the name @jew_goldstein, because of course it was. Eichenwald (who’s also the author of the book-turned-movie The Informant) tweeted out a Department Of Justice statement on the arrest, which says that 29-year-old Maryland resident John Rivello has been arrested on charges of cyberstalking in connection to the post, and that messages and images associated with the act have been found on his computer.

This isn’t the first time online trolls have attempted to inflict physical harm on internet users in this way. Back in 2008, an online forum for people suffering from epilepsy was filled with similar images, with numerous people reporting seizures from the incident. No arrests were made back then, though, meaning that Eichenwald’s case might be the first legal test in America of whether someone can be charged with a crime for broadcasting an image with an intent to cause direct physical harm. What a fun, inter-connected world we live in now.

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