Epilepsy Society calls on government for better social media seizure warnings

Epilepsy Society has called on the government to recommend warnings about flashing images on social media to prevent triggering seizures.

It has been revealed that a growing number of people with epilepsy have reported experiencing a seizure from flashing images on social media.

TRIGGER

Charity, Epilepsy Society has claimed that cyber-bullying has seen people posting potentially triggering flashing images to intentionally cause a potential seizure.

Around 20,000 people in the UK live with photosensitive epilepsy, meaning their seizures are triggered by flashing lights or contrasting, quick-fire imagery.

Clare Pelham, chief executive for Epilepsy Action, explains: “Many people share videos with potentially dangerous content without realising the danger that it could pose to someone who is photosensitive. And we absolutely recognise that there is no intent to cause harm here.

“However, when it comes to deliberately targeting people with epilepsy with the intention of causing a seizure, behaviour that some people call cyber bullying, we need to call that behaviour what it is – a pre-meditated and pre-planned intention to assault.

“The Government must bring this behaviour within the reach of the criminal law.”

CHARITY

More people are coming to the charity with complaints that increased online content includes animations, fast-paced videos, or flashing lights which could trigger a seizure. 

Similarly, potentially harmful images are being tagged with epilepsy related words to deliberately target people with the condition. 

In a bid to reduce the number of people experiencing seizures, Epilepsy Society is calling for a fine for tech companies that don’t include relevant warning signs for flashing images – as commonly seen on television. 

Clare continues: “But more than that, where the behaviour is deliberate and intended to provoke a seizure, they should be required to support the police in bringing a prosecution.

“This behaviour is deliberately cruel and hateful and often targeted at vulnerable people.”

The charity has since written to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright to ask for further reassurance this his Online Harms paper will also safeguard people living with photosensitive epilepsy.

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