Yesterday, an anonymous Twitter user targeted Vanity Fair contributing editor Kurt Eichenwald with a tweet meant to trigger a seizure, the writer revealed this morning. Eichenwald has epilepsy, and the tweeted strobe successfully caused him to seize. Now, he’ll be coordinating with police and Twitter to unmask the tweeter. Eichenwald also says he’s taking a much-needed break from the social network. See below:
Last night, for the second time, a deplorable aware I have epilepsy tweeted a strobe at me with the message "you deserve a seizure' on it...— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016
...it worked. This is not going to happen again. My wife is terrified. I am...disgusted. All I will be tweeting for the next few days are...— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016
...copies of documents from the litigation, police reports etc. Once we have the lawsuit filed, we will be subpoenaing Twitter for the...— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016
...identity of the individual who engaged in this cross-state assault. At this point, the police are attempting to determine if this is...— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016
...a federal crime because it appears to be cross state. This kind of assault will never happen again without huge consequences. This...— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016
...individual will be going to court, and he will be paying a price. And if any of you others ever try this again, I will make sure it...— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016
...happens to you. Online anonymity does not protect criminals. Thats why subpoenas exist. You are facing a criminal investigation and a...— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016
...lawsuit. So if any of you others think about trying this "cute" prank, consider the consequences. They will be severe.— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) December 16, 2016
The attacker tweeted under the name @jew_goldstein, according to Mediaite, but that account has since been suspended.
This attack follows drama earlier this week between President-elect Donald Trump and Eichenwald’s employer. Vanity Fair published a scathing review of the Trump Grill restaurant on Wednesday to which Trump responded:
Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
The feud between the publication, its editor Graydon Carter, and Trump goes back decades. As Eater wrote this week, the two men have been feuding since the ‘80s, when Carter referred to Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian” in Spy magazine. Eichenwald has also extensively covered Trump during the election season and in years prior to his political rise.
As far as attacks on people with epilepsy, this form factor is nothing new. Even Eichenwald has claimed to have been attacked twice so far this year. He wrote in Newsweek in October that a Trump supporter attempted to induce a seizure with a epileptogenic cartoon. That time, he was able to drop his iPad before seizing.
Anonymous commenters also targeted epilepsy forums in 2008. They posted flashing animations to trigger seizures for forum visitors. At the time, Wired noted it might have been the first time a “computer attack inflicted physical harm on victims.” Now, as Eichenwald mentions in his tweets, the question becomes, does a tweet qualify as assault?