A currently unknown attacker targeted Twitter followers of the Epilepsy Foundation with a strobe GIF. The attacks took place early last month but are only just now gaining public attention. A spokesman for the foundation likened the attack to “a person carrying a strobe light into a convention of people with epilepsy and seizures, with the intention of inducing seizures.” So far there have been 30 confirmed attacks on the foundation’s followers; it is unclear though how many clicked on the GIF.
This is not the first instance of epileptics being targeted by such attacks. In 2016, John Rayne Rivello targeted a journalist, whom he disagreed with, with such a GIF. The journalist was a known epileptic and clicked on the GIF. According to court records the journalist might have died if his wife had not been home at the time to pull him away from the computer screen and call 911 when he began to suffer from a seizure. Charges of battery though were contested since no physical contact had actually taken place. Instances of a cyber-attack being used to cause physical harm to others raises unique legal questions in terms of how charges can be made against an individual. The internet also allows for a greater disconnect in the harm being done by one person’s actions against another. More information on this attack can be found at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/16/us/strobe-attack-epilepsy.html