I read on the BBC News App that Kurt Eichenwald, an American journalist serving as a senior writer with Newsweek, a contributing editor with Vanity Fair, and a New York Times bestselling author of four books, suffered an epileptic seizure after receiving a malicious tweet which contained flashing images. The sender apparently disagreed with some of Mr Eichenwald’s articles. Mr Eichenwald is a prominent critic of president-elect Donald Trump, and is a known epileptic.
Mr Eichenwald says he has been ‘assaulted’ via the internet, and is pursuing legal action against the person responsible, whose Twitter account has been suspended. He says that once he has the lawsuit filed, he will be subpoenaing Twitter for the identity of the individual concerned.
What kind of sick person would send such a malicious tweet to a known sufferer of photosensitive epilepsy? The Deputy Chief Executive at Epilepsy Action stated that seizures are not only very distressing for the person experiencing them, but they can also cause injury and, in the worst cases, be fatal.
One of my sons suffered from ‘petit mal’ as a child, a less serious form of epilepsy, but it was still distressing for him and for us. We were told that he’d either grow out of it or it would progress to the ‘grand mal’ type of seizures that Mr Eichenwald suffers from. Luckily he did grow out of it, but the eldest son of my mother’s cousin was not so lucky. He fell into a vegetative state after suffering an epileptic fit aged 7. He is now 50 years of age, and his parents are still stoically looking after him at home in their late seventies.
Mr Eichenwald has had to stop using Twitter. Perhaps a prison sentence or a hefty fine might deter the sender of the malicious tweet from a repeat performance. Let’s hope so.