Zach's Law

Young Epilepsy is one of several epilepsy charities that has been targeted on Twitter by individuals posting flashing images in an attempt to induce seizures.

Epilepsy Society have led the ‘Zach’s Law’ campaign for greater protection online for people with epilepsy. The campaign was named after one of their young supporters who was targeted on social media. In support, we have submitted evidence to the Law Commission and the Draft Online Safety Bill Committee, sharing our experiences and supporting the call for a new law to make it an offence to maliciously send flashing images to people with epilepsy. We welcomed the news that the Government will now implement the Law Commission’s recommendation and include this new law in the Online Safety Bill.

The malicious posts take the form of flashing images, intended to induce a seizure in someone with photosensitive epilepsy. Seizures can result in injuries such as bruises, cuts and burns. Prolonged seizures can also result in a potentially fatal condition known as status epilepticus.

Whilst only 3% of the epilepsy population experience photosensitive seizures, these malicious online posts have also caused distress to the wider epilepsy community, including young people and their parents. We are aware that some of our supporters have also been specifically targeted through direct messages.

In response to each post, we have blocked the offending accounts so they were unable to target or view the charity’s profile. However, individuals were able to set up new accounts to continue posting. Where the images were posted in reply to our own posts, these were hidden from our audience. Each post and account were reported directly to Twitter.

We have notified our supporters on social media about the attacks and shared guides on how to turn off auto-play for videos and gifs. This feature enables people to set up their social media accounts so that videos and gifs will only play if people actively select them, rather than playing automatically on their feed.

In response to the attacks we reported the incidents to the police. However, they were unable to obtain any information from Twitter regarding the account details and IP addresses linked to the malicious posts.

If you would like information and guidance on how to respond to a malicious attack on social please visit our page Being safe social media


Listings photo by Lorne Campbell, Guzelian