Social Media

Twitter pulls flashing Vine ads following claims they could cause seizures

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Twitter bowed to pressure from a U.K. charity over the weekend after it was accused of posting “dangerous” ads that could cause seizures among those with epilepsy.

Published as part of Twitter’s #DiscoverMusic campaign aimed at promoting new tracks and bringing more artists to the social media platform, the ad featured a looping six-second Vine video showing a range of colors flashing in quick succession.

Epilepsy U.K. told Twitter the ads were “massively dangerous” to those with photosensitive epilepsy.

Such patterns of flashing light are known to cause seizures in some people, though this matter appears to have been overlooked by Twitter’s marketing team when creating the campaign.

The ads were reportedly up for around 18 hours before the San Francisco-based company complied with Epilepsy Action’s request to remove them.

Simon Wigglesworth, Epilepsy Action’s deputy chief executive, told the BBC that  87 people in the U.K. are diagnosed with epilepsy every day, adding that the first seizure “can often come out of nowhere.”

He added, “For a huge corporation like Twitter to take that risk was irresponsible.”

As noted by the BBC, there was a high-profile case of photosensitive epilepsy back in 1997 when a Pokemon cartoon with flashing lights caused “convulsions, vomiting, irritated eyes, and other symptoms” among more than 600 children in Japan.

No such reactions have been reported in connection with Twitter’s removed #DiscoverMusic ads.

The social media giant has said little on the matter, though Rachel Bremer, Twitter’s international communications director, thanked the charity for bringing the issue to its attention.

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