Last week, after a much talked about appearance on Fox News, Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald was sent a “strobing” GIF on Twitter.
Eichenwald suffers from epilepsy, and his wife posted to his Twitter account that the image had caused a seizure.
Below is a screenshot of the GIF in question:
Though, according to The Daily Caller, no criminal investigation or charges have yet to materialize from the incident, Eichenwald has filed a civil suit and made a move to discover the identity of the (now suspended) Twitter user who sent the GIF:
And, per an article on The Verge, Twitter will be providing what information it has about the user after a judge granted the motion filed by Eichenwald. The Newsweek reporter also weighed in on Twitter with a warning to others who would attempt the same:
Twitter declined to comment on the case, specifically, but other Twitter users had plenty to say.
Many support both Eichenwald and Twitter in discovering the user's identity and pursuing legal action:
While others believe Twitter is aiding in “doxxing” an anonymous user and playing politics:
But according to an article at Law Newz, Eichenwald may have a case under Texas law, if the Twitter user can be identified and it is proven that he “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse.”
While the use of social media for nefarious purposes has been earning a growing portion of news coverage, so has internet privacy and data security. Twitter, as a private company, must balance the privacy and protection of its users' data and complying with legal inquiry when the platform is used for alleged criminal activity.
The issue becomes even more murky and controversial when the case being litigated is a civil, and not a criminal one, and Twitter is already facing accusations of chilling speech based on political ideology.
Eichenwald continues to do battle on Twitter over the suit, among other things, but perhaps one Twitter user has already hit on a solution:
This warning will soon become as ubiquitous as the FBI Warning on VHS tapes. Designers will call it, with scorn “The Eichenwald Screen” pic.twitter.com/CfyYZZgJ69
— Art Wing Conspiracy (@artwingcon) December 20, 2016