Twitter Yanks Flashing Ads Over Seizure Concerns

Epilepsy group raises concerns
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2015 6:34 AM CDT
Twitter Yanks Flashing Ads Over Seizure Concerns
Twitter quickly pulled the videos when alarms were raised.   (AP Photo/dpa, Soeren Stache, File)

Twitter pulled two looping videos it posted via Vine for an unusual reason—concern they might trigger seizures. It doesn't appear they actually did, but Twitter acted after an epilepsy organization raised concerns about the ads, which contained six seconds of bright flashes, reports the Guardian. "Eighty-seven people are diagnosed with epilepsy every day and that first seizure can often come out of nowhere," an executive with a support group in Britain tells the BBC. "For a huge corporation like Twitter to take that risk was irresponsible." The ads, for Twitter's DiscoverMusic campaign, were up about 18 hours before a company official responded to the group's request and deleted them yesterday.

About 3% of people with epilepsy are vulnerable to seizures if they see certain visual patterns, including flashing lights, reports the Los Angeles Times, citing a high-profile case in 1997 in which a Pokemon episode reportedly triggered scores of seizures. Another involved an Olympics TV spot in 2012 with a rippling logo. “Before it was about TV," the chair of Mayo Clinic's neurology department tells the newspaper. "Next was computers, next was video games, and next is phone." For those who want to block videos on Twitter from playing automatically, the Consumerist provides a how-to here. (An epileptic skydiver had a seizure at the worst possible moment.)

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