Twitter will no longer allow you to post animated PNG files on the platform after trolls hijacked the Epilepsy Foundation’s handle and hashtags last month to send potentially seizure-inducing images to epileptic and photo-sensitive individuals. The social media giant says that it recently discovered a bug that allowed users to post multiple APNG images to a tweet and bypass Twitter’s autoplay protections using the file format.
Following its statement, Twiiter also mentioned that it isn’t aware that anyone used APNG to try and trigger seizures; it just wants to avoid the possibility that people do so in the future. “We want everyone to have a safe experience on Twitter,” the company said in a tweet.
“APNGs were fun, but they don’t respect autoplay settings, so we’re removing the ability to add them to tweets. This is for the safety of people with sensitivity to motion and flashing imagery, including those with epilepsy,” Twitter mentioned in a tweet on posted on this concern. Twitter also said APNGs used up a lot of data, and could in some circumstances cause app crashes.
Using PNGs for animation is difficult. APNGs are orders of magnitude larger than normal preview images. This can mean a slower app, increased memory use and even crashes. These problems make for an unpleasant Twitter experience, and there's little that can be done to avoid it. https://t.co/IsWwIm6mYz
— Twitter Engineering (@TwitterEng) December 23, 2019
Being most specific, you are still allowed to include animated images in your tweet. But now, you are only allowed to post GIFs. Since most people already use GIFs as their go-to for sharing clips and reactions, the update is unlikely to change how the majority use the platform.
In addition to removing APNGs from the platform, the company also mentioned that it’s working on adding alt-text to GIFs, which will help make them more accessible to people who depend on screen readers to navigate the internet. Also, they are working on to build a similar feature that will not only liquefy the Twitter experience but will also be beneficial for users.
The move probably won’t make Twitter completely safe for photo-sensitive individuals since trolls have used GIFs in the past to try and harm people. However, the fact that APNGs were able to bypass the site’s autoplay protections made them particularly susceptible to abuse.
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