Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald said he was taking a break from Twitter after a malicious online troll apparently sent him a seizure-inducing tweet knowing he suffers from epilepsy. The tweet reportedly included a strobe video, accompanied by a message that read, "You deserve a seizure."
In October, Eichenwald wrote that a supporter of President-elect Donald Trump with the Twitter handle "Mike's Deplorable AF" sent him a tweet embedded with a seizure-triggering video after he wrote a story about Trump's business interests and how it may affect national security.
As soon as he recognised the video's characteristics after he hit play, he dropped his iPad just in time, Eichenwald wrote.
"In his tweet, which has since been deleted, Mike made mention of my seizures and included a small video," he explained. "It contained images of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that has been identified by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol.
"The video was some sort of strobe light, with flashing circles and images of Pepe flying toward the screen. It's what's called epileptogenic — something that triggers seizures... The deplorables are real. The deplorables are dangerous."
On Friday (16 December), however, a Twitter user tried again and was reportedly successful. Eichenwald said the flashing strobe video triggered an epileptic seizure and he plans to take legal action against the "deplorable" Twitter user with the handle @jew_goldstein. The account has since been suspended.
"This is his wife, you caused a seizure," Eichenwald's account tweeted. "I have your information and have called the police to report the assault."
Eichenwald later wrote that he was taking a short Twitter break for self-protection and will be "spending that time with my lawyers and law enforcement going after 1 of u."
"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," Eichenwald wrote in a series of tweets. "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 copies of documents from the litigation, police reports, etc. Once we have the lawsuit filed, we will be subpoenaing Twitter for the identity of the individual who engaged in this cross-state assault."
He also noted that the police are currently trying to determine whether it amounts to federal crime since it seems to be cross state.
"This kind of assault will never happen again without huge consequences," Eichenwald continued. "Online anonymity does not protect criminals."
The latest malicious tweet came after Eichenwald appeared on Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight in a heated interview during which they questioned each other's journalistic practices.
"Because I have written critically about Trump, I have received innumerable death threats, sometimes just general invocations that I should die, sometimes more specific threats that I should be shot or 'lynched' as one Trump fan wrote," Eichenwald wrote in October.
"I am far from the only journalist exposed to the bottom-feeders among Trump supporters who traffic in violence, threats, racism and anti-Semitism," he said. "This is not an unavoidable consequence of a contentious political campaign. This is exceptional, a circumstance brought about by the gutter rants of Donald Trump and his refusal to condemn the racists, neo-Nazis and other deplorables who support him."
In October, Trump supporters began tweeting crossed-out photos of people they believed were "thwarting American democracy and freedom" including journalists that they dubbed "Lügenpresse" — a term used by the Nazis that means "lying press."
The Anti-Defamation League released a study that documented a "significant uptick" in anti-Semitic harassment towards journalists on Twitter during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Twitter has come under fire in recent months, drawing strong criticism that the company needs to do more to curb and prevent online harassment, hate speech and cyberbullying on its platform. Last month, the company announced plans to beef up some of its features to tackle abusive behaviour.
The company later suspended multiple prominent Twitter accounts associated with the alt-right movement including white nationalist leader Richard Spencer. His account was later reinstated and verified on the platform.