There is a trend on social media to post animations that are very “psychedelic” in nature but some of them can trigger an epileptic seizure or fit. In some cases, which have caused some media attention, people put those types of animations for the purpose of targeting specific users in order to make them sick.
I feel those who upload these animations fall into the following categories:
- General users who think they are fun not realizing the consequences
- Social Media managers who think they are attention-grabbing not realizing the consequences
- Those who shamefully place them on social media with the sole purpose of doing harm.
Examples of the triggers of photosensitive epilepsy are described in this article by the Epilepsy Foundation. Some of the triggers they list are as follows:
- Flickering light
- Intense strobe lights
- Visual patterns with stripes
Hopefully, no one wants to do any harm to people and those with epilepsy do not want to get a seizure. Seizures are not amusing, feel uncomfortable for days, and can be fatal. So, here are my suggestions on what can be done.
General Social Media Users
Simply review any animations you upload to social media to ensure it won’t do any harm to those who have taken the time and trouble to view your posts. If you think you have to upload the animation and there is a possibility it might cause harm please display a warning.
Social Media Managers
Before anything is uploaded to social media it should go through a QA process, not just the text but also any videos, graphics or animations. You are probably checking to ensure it aligns with the company brand and goals, a company goal should be not to cause distress in your clients, potential or otherwise. Please include the possibility of harmful animations in your workflow.
Those With Epilepsy
To safeguard yourself getting a seizure a fail-safe protection is to ensure animations do not load automatically, in other words, you need to click on a play button to run them. Every social media company should have this option in the settings of your account. Following is a rough guide for the most popular platforms:
- Twitter Desktop: Profile and Settings > Settings and Privacy > Accessibility > Ensure “Video Autoplay” is unchecked. This will apply to videos and animated gifs.
- Twitter App: Settings and Privacy > Scroll to Bottom and tap Video Autoplay > Choose Never
- Tweetdeck: Settings > Settings > Turn Off “Autoplay GIFs”.
- Instagram App: Click on Profile Icon (bottom right-hand corner) > Click on Menu icon (top right-hand corner) > Settings > Cellular Data Usage > Ensure Use Less Data is turned off.
- Facebook Desktop: Settings > Videos (bottom left-hand side) > Auto-play Video’s should be set to Off.
- Facebook App: Settings and Privacy > Settings > Videos and Photos > Autoplay > Tap Never Autoplay Videos
- LinkedIn Desktop: Click on “Me” in top right menu > Settings and Privacy > Under Site Preference click on Autoplay Videos > Turn Autoplay to Off.
- LinkedIn App: Tap on the icon where you place your image > Tap on Settings (wheel icon top-right) > Tap Autoplay videos > Check “Never Autoplay Videos.
British television generally provides a warning if an upcoming video contains flickering or flash photography. I think we can do the same over social media.