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'Vanity Fair' editor sues Twitter troll for giving him a seizure

The user tweeted an animation at the editor that triggered his epilepsy.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
December 17, 2016
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Who knew trolls can use social media not just to dish out death threats but to cause someone actual physical harm? A Twitter user who went by the name @jew_goldstein very recently tweeted a GIF with rapidly flashing graphics at Vanity Fair and Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald, a known epileptic and Donald Trump critic. Shortly after that, Eichenwald's wife replied that the auto-playing animation gave Eichenwald a seizure and that she called the police to report the assault along with the info they have on the user.

@jew_goldstein's account has since been suspended, but you can see a screenshot of the message below, courtesy of Mediaite.

The weaponized tweet went out a day after Eichenwald had a face off with Fox News' Tucker Carlson on TV. In fact, this is the second time someone tweeted him a seizure-inducing animation this year. Back in October, Eichenwald wrote in Newsweek that someone pinged him with a video of "flashing circles and images of Pepe flying toward the screen" after he wrote about how the President-Elect's businesses could undermine national security. He was able to drop his iPad before the animation triggered a seizure that time, though -- he wasn't so lucky this time.

In a series of tweets he sent out after the event, the editor announced that he's taking a Twitter break to pursue a case against @jew_goldstein.

Keith Lee, a lawyer based out of Birmingham, Alabama, posted an analysis of the situation on his blog. He examined whether what happened to Eichenwald could be legally classified as an assault and whether you can sue someone for a tweet. He concluded that "there is no reason to think that someone cannot be held liable for assault delivered electronically across great distances." But since what he's written is all speculative, we'll just have to wait for Eichenwald's updates on the litigation.

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