Twitter was scolded by an epilepsy support group from Britain for two recent videos it posted via Vine, saying that the flickering flashes in the videos could cause seizures in some users. Epilepsy Action called them out and requested Twitter to take them down as soon as possible.
The popular 140-character-based social network did just that an hour later, when a Twitter representative thanked the group for pointing out that their #DiscoverMusic Vines could dangerously affect people who deal with photosensitive epilepsy.
Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive for Epilepsy Action, considered that Twitter had taken an irresponsible risk when it uploaded the videos, considering the magnitude of the corporation. Even for users who haven’t been diagnosed with photosensitivity, the first seizure can be triggered by anything.
Epilepsy Action, the Leeds-based charity organization, could not be reached for further comments.
Joseph Sirven, director of the neurology department at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and the leading editor of the Epilepsy Foundation’s website, said this incident is part of a long history of video-focused industries learning how to keep the content they upload safe. Sometimes, that includes adding warnings about flashing content on packaging or during ad campaigns.
Sirven explained that worrying about safe content has gradually moved from one media channel to another; before, companies had to be careful about television content; next, it was computers, then video games and now, smartphone is the king.
Mobile devices are now of apps, videos and animations, and there are some safety questions about how broadcasting should be done in the smartphone – or tablet – era.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, there are 3 percent of the general population who deal with epilepsy and whose seizures are often triggered by being exposed to “quickly changing visual patterns such as flashing lights.”
The videos Twitter was called out on are no longer online, but they were apparently part of the #DiscoverMusic campaign. Created via Vine – the video-platform allowing only 6-second videos – this spots contained rapidly changing colors in a loop.
It is yet unclear whether either Twitter or Vine have policies that protect or warn photosensitive people about content that could harm them.
Epilepsy Action has been carefully screening the popular ad spots and commercials over the years, and they also raised awareness on this matter in 2012, when an Olympics TV promo was edited because it caused seizures with its rippled colors.
Image Source: CBS San Francisco