Twitter Blocks Animated PNG Format After Trolls Attempt To Cause Seizures For Users
Twitter has announced that it is blocking the APNG image format from its service. APNG is an animated PNG file, and Twitter is taking this step because it doesn't follow standard autoplay settings. The animated images can automatically play no matter what setting the user has enabled.
Twitter said that it had found a bug that allowed users to add multiple APNGs to a tweet and that the file format ignored its safeguards against auto-playing images and could cause performance issues for the app and a user's device.
We want everyone to have a safe experience on Twitter.— Twitter Accessibility (@TwitterA11y) December 23, 2019
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
APNGs will now no longer animate when tweeted. Twitter specifically stated that the file format was removed to maintain the safety of people with sensitivity to motion and flashing imagery, including those with epilepsy. Twitter says that tweets already on the platform in APNG format won't be deleted. Only GIF images can be animated in the future.
The attacks with the animated files happened on the Epilepsy Foundation's Twitter handle last month, during National Epilepsy Month. Trolls used its hashtags, and Twitter handle to post animated messages with strobing light effects. Its unclear how many people might have been impacted by the attack, but law enforcement has filed criminal complaints against the accounts believed to be involved. Twitter has stated it is looking into building a "similar feature" to replace APNGs.