An epileptic seizure caused by a flashing animated GIF sent on Twitter may constitute battery, a federal judge in Texas ruled.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Bredar came after Newsweek and Vanity Fair journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who has publicly mentioned his epilepsy, suffered a severe seizure in 2016 when he opened a tweet that read, “You deserve a seizure for your posts.” According to an article published Thursday in the ABA Journal, the tweet contained a flashing strobe image.
Eichenwald criticized Donald Trump on social media during the 2016 presidential election and received “numerous threats and messages over the Internet” as a result.
The man accused of sending the GIF, John Rivello, had claimed there could be no battery under Texas law absent a claim of physical contact.
However, Bredar concluded physical contact can be “of an amorphous nature; it is not always accomplished by means of a solid, graspable object.”