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Judge: Flashing GIF sent to provoke seizure may be battery

June 7, 2018

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.”

 


 

 

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