Twitter bans animated PNGs to avoid triggering people with photosensitive conditions
File under: "This is why we can't have nice things". To counter abuse by people seeking to trigger seizures in those with photosensitive epilepsy, Twitter has announced a ban on animated PNG images.
The company says that the fact that APNGs don't respect autoplay settings and pose a risk to some users. As such, the ability to post animated PNGs has been removed "for the safety of people with sensitivity to motion and flashing imagery, including those with epilepsy".
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While the move comes shortly after the Epilepsy Foundation's account was attacked with animated images designed to trigger seizures in people with photosensitive conditions, APNG files were not used in those particular attacks. It seem, however, that the ban is a pre-emptive move to stop the from being used in this way in the future.
The ban was announced via the Twitter Accessibility account:
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. https://t.co/Suogtrop1u
— Twitter Accessibility (@TwitterA11y) December 23, 2019
On its Twitter Support account, Twitter also pointed to the fact that APNG files can cause performance issues by bypassing its safeguards, and said that it was working on an alternative feature:
Existing APNG files uploaded to Twitter will not be removed, and our teams will look into building a similar feature that’s better for you and your Twitter experience.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) December 23, 2019