Twitter removes ad criticized by epilepsy organization

After Twitter released two short videos via Vine containing bright flashes they created to attract viewers, an epilepsy support group based in Leeds, Britain, strongly requested them to remove the ads they thought could cause seizures.

The group, Epilepsy Action, tweeted, “Your #DiscoverMusic Vines are massively dangerous to people with photosensitive epilepsy. Please take them offline now.”

In response to the request, Twitter removed the ads in less than an hour from the complaint, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“For a huge corporation like Twitter to take that risk was irresponsible,” Epilepsy Action’s deputy chief executive, Simon Wigglesworth said. “That first seizure can often come out of nowhere,” he added.

The editor-in-chief of the Epilepsy Foundation, Joseph Sirven, is also the chairman of the neurology department at the Mayo Clinic. He noted that video-oriented companies have learned over time to provide warnings on promotions for flashing content.

“Before it was about TV. Next was computers, next was video games and next is phone,” Sirven said.

Over time, apps, animations and videos streamed through mobile devices have become more prevalent leaving no room for safe broadcasting. Specialists have said that 3% of people suffering from epilepsy are triggered by exposure to quickly changing visual patterns including flashing lights.

The videos released by Twitter displayed quickly changing colors in a loop which sparked quick concern from Epilepsy Action.

Although Twitter removed the videos as requested, they have not commented on the situation. There are no clear public guidelines from Twitter or Vine that screen content for material that could possibly harm those who are photosensitive.

The concern is not one that has come up suddenly. In 1997 hundreds of people were reported to have suffered seizures from an animated Japanese TV program that blared red strobe lights.

Epilepsy Action has also continued to be vigilant about the concern having recently also reported a flickering video during the 2012 Olympics that featured a logo rippled with colors.

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