Here is the news report from USAToday and the Associated Press.

DALLAS — A Newsweek reporter who has epilepsy said he had a seizure after being sent a message on Twitter intended to trigger such an episode and is seeking information from the social media company to identify the person responsible for the tweet.

Did Twitter Cause This Reporter to Have a Seizure?

The strobe of a video game can cause someone with epilepsy to have a seizure. I learned about this from an adjuster from Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in the early 90’s. He related to me how he had just paid out on a claim involving a gamer who after entering an arcade experienced a seizure after the game started. The game’s manufacturer had no warning that the game used a strobe and could cause someone with epilepsy to have a seizure. He further related the Liberty Mutual library had literature waring about this very problem – and so he paid out on the claim involving broken teeth when the gamer’s head came smashing down on the console.

Assuming this reporter has epilepsy, can prove the tweet included a strobe and who tweeted it, I suspect so long as there was no warning that some insurance company will be paying out on this claim. But this one goes beyond mere negligence. In the Wall Street Journal article [Media, Reporter Says Tweet Caused a Seizure, December 21, 2016] there is this: The image in question – which included a strobe effect and the words, “You deserve a seizure for your posts” – was apparently sent in response to Kurt Eichenwald’s criticism of President-elect Donald Trump.”

That quote from the tweet - You deserve a seizure for your posts – appears to be evidence of malice and the understanding the strobe would cause a seizure. There is little room for the sender to wiggle out of this one.

Here is Crystal a neuroscientist at DNews as she explains, How Video Games Can Cause Seizures.

Four percent of the population experiences epilepsy. Photosensitive seizures.

The factors making a strobe cause a seizure include the following:

  • How quickly the light flashes
  • The intensity of the flashing lights.
  • The distance between the viewer and the light source.
  • And, the color or wavelength of the light.

A Pokémon cartoon show triggered seizures in 600 children as well as a noodle commercial shown in Europe did the same.

Thjs is no laughing matter because “repeated seizure activity can lead to cognitive impairment, behavioral abnormalities and even brain damage.”

Additional News Stories

Newsweek Trump critic says he had epileptic seizure after Twitter troll purposely sent him flashing image

“In October, shortly after publishing an article about President-elect Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest, Eichenwald said he received a video from a Twitter user named “Mike’s Deplorable AF” that contained strobe lights, flashing circles and an picture of Pepe the Frog flying at the screen — images, he said, that were designed to trigger an epileptic seizure.

Eichenwald, a Trump critic who frequently ridicules the Republican businessman’s supporters online, said he avoided injury by dropping his iPad facedown on the floor. Writing about the incident in Newsweek at the time, he predicted more attacks would follow.

Last week, Eichenwald said, someone sent him a similar message — and this time, he said, it worked.”

Once-comic Pepe the Frog has been declared a hate symbol, by Travis M. Andrews, September 28, 2016.

“The Anti-Defamation League has added Pepe the Frog to its “Hate Symbol Database” after the popular Internet meme was altered and used as a symbol for racism. (Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)”

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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