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posted by Fnord666 on Monday March 20, @04:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the is-it-assault-or-battery? dept.

Three months after a journalist reported being attacked by a troll who posted a seizure-inducing image on Twitter, a suspect has been arrested:

A man accused of triggering an epileptic seizure of senior Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald through a tweet was arrested by the FBI on Friday morning. An FBI spokesman said the name of the suspect has not been released but confirmed that an arrest was made, Dallas News reported.

The arrest comes three months after Eichenwald said he suffered a seizure after someone sent him a video clip of a flashing strobe light in an intentional effort to trigger his epilepsy. A Twitter account called @jew_goldstein — which has since been suspended — responded to Eichenwald with a gif of flashing strobe lights and a message: "You deserve a seizure for that post." Shortly after, Eichenwald's account tweeted: "This is his wife, you caused a seizure. I have your information and have called the police to report the assault."

From the Dallas News article:

The agency announced that John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Salisbury, Md., was arrested Friday morning in Maryland on a cyberstalking charge.

[...] Eichenwald's attorney, Steven Liberman, told Newsweek that "What Mr. Rivello did with his Twitter message was no different from someone sending a bomb in the mail or sending an envelope filled with anthrax spores."

[...] According to a criminal complaint, messages sent from Rivello's Twitter account mentioned Eichenwald, saying "I know he has epilepsy," "I hope this sends him into a seizure" and "let's see if he dies."

Authorities also found an screenshot of Eichenwald's Wikipedia page on Rivello's iCloud account, the criminal complaint said, altered to list his date of death as Dec. 16, 2016. Other files on the iCloud account include a list of things that trigger epileptic seizures and a screenshot of a Dallas Observer article about Eichenwald's attempts to find the person who tweeted at him.

[...] On Friday, Eichenwald said that more than 40 people sent him strobes once they found out that they could trigger seizures.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Epilepsy Patient Assaulted Via Twitter 74 comments [+]

Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who is known to be suffering from epilepsy, reported on twitter that someone tweeted him a seizure-inducing image. This is not the first time it happened, but this attempt was (apparently) successful in triggering a seizure.

This might be the first physical attack on a person perpetrated via the internet. A sad point in history, in my view.

Links: coverage from Ars Technica, Eichenwald's Twitter feed. I'm not linking to the offending image - you're big enough to find it on your own and apparently it is quite horrible even for people who do not suffer from epilepsy.

Eichenwald has tweeted that he is involving law enforcement.

Any ideas on how hard it would be to filter out seizure-inducing media (make it click-to-view/play)?


Original Submission

Epilepsy-Triggering Suspect Charged, More Details on the Arrest 27 comments [+]

Previously: Alleged Epilepsy-Triggering Troll Arrested by the FBI.

The man accused of triggering an epileptic seizure by tweeting was caught when authorities obtained phone records and access to an iCloud account:

Court documents show that a search warrant to Twitter concerning the @jew_goldstein handle provided the authorities with information that the account was created on December 11 with a "PhoneDevice." Twitter also divulged the device's phone number and said that the carrier was AT&T. Some of the direct messages to other Twitter users on the account, according to the documents, said, "I know he has epilepsy," "I hope this sends him into a seizure," and "...let's see if he dies." The Dallas authorities next obtained information from AT&T that the telephone number used to start the Twitter account was a burner SIM card with a Tracfone prepaid account "with no subscriber information." "However, a review of the AT&T toll records showed an associated Apple iPhone 6A Model 1586 (Apple iPhone)," Nathan Hopp, an FBI agent in Dallas, wrote in the criminal complaint (PDF).

The police then sent a search warrant to Apple "for the iCloud account associated to the telephone number" used to open the Twitter account. Apple provided a wealth of information that ultimately doomed Rivello. Cupertino gave the Dallas Police Department his Apple ID e-mail address, his name, home address, and registration IP address when the account was created in 2012.

John Rayne Rivello has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon "enhanced as a hate crime". One of the images obtained from the iCloud account included an image of Rivello posing with his driver's license. The animated GIF that Rivello allegedly tweeted was a generic one that had already been posted on places such as 4chan for years.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @04:58AM (15 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @04:58AM (#481363)

    If sending flashing images to people who knowingly have epilepsy is a crime, then why isn't every spammer who uses those annoying strobe ads doing life in jail? They spam everybody, knowing that a certain percentage of the population has that condition.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @05:08AM (11 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @05:08AM (#481364)
      Because they spam everybody. They may be careless, but they do not mean to harm anyone - dead customer is of no use to them. However this guy was specifically targeting a vulnerable person with intent to cause his death. Intent is everything in criminal court.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @06:01AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @06:01AM (#481375)

        I got your "mens rea" right here!

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday March 20, @07:32AM (9 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 20, @07:32AM (#481386) Journal

        If I walk into most stores, smoking a cigarette, I'm likely to get arrested, despite any lack of intent to harm anyone. The nanny state has decided that it must protect everyone from my smoke, no matter they want it or not.

        If I'm speeding through a school zone, I can expect to be arrested, despite any lack of intent to harm anyone.

        If I discharge a firearm within most city limits, I'm likely to be arrested, despite any intent to harm anyone.

        If I'm posting, mailing, or otherwise sending images which can be reasonably expected to induce seizures in some portion of the population, then I should be arrested.

        --
        This broadcast is intended for mature audiences.
        • (Score: 3, Touché) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Monday March 20, @08:12AM

          by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Monday March 20, @08:12AM (#481398)

          f I'm speeding through a school zone, I can expect to be arrested, despite any lack of intent to harm anyone.

          Last time I sped though a school zone, they just mailed me a ticket.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @08:45AM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @08:45AM (#481408)

          Runaway has the whole thing bass ackwards yet again!

          If I put a harmless chemical into a municipal water suppy thinking it is a deadly poison, I should be arrested.

          If I pull the trigger whilst aiming at another human being with intent to kill, and the gun happens to be unloaded, still attempted murder.

          If I push the button on the cell phone that the nice undercover FBI agent has told me will blow up a whole bunch of innocent people, I am probably going away for a long time.

          To sum up, Runaway, we are talking about intent to cause harm, not unintentionally causing harm. Both are culpable.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @11:12AM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @11:12AM (#481440)

            Poor idiot - Runaway has pointed out that you can be imprisoned for a variety of actions, despite the lack of any intent to harm anyone. That should apply to advertisers who induce seizures.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @04:26PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @04:26PM (#481567)

              Poor idiot - Runaway

              Yeah, but calling Runaway names is not likely to change his mind. It is more likely to trigger him, like the word "Hillary", or "abortion", or "constitution"

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @09:32PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @09:32PM (#481792)

              Poor idiot - Runaway

              But you repeat yourself. With apologies to Mark Twain.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, @12:36AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, @12:36AM (#481891)

            Is it OK to kill the FBI agent in question on the spot? For suggesting such a horrible thing that is? As well as the FBI director who orchestrated the setup? No? Why not?

        • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Monday March 20, @04:22PM (2 children)

          by DeathMonkey (1380) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 20, @04:22PM (#481561) Journal

          And here we have an excellent example of exactly why we need those laws.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @04:29PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @04:29PM (#481569)

            thass racissss

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, @01:49AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, @01:49AM (#481914)

              We has us a Soylentil of the House of Slytherin! A parsel-tongue, no less?

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Monday March 20, @05:17AM (1 child)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Monday March 20, @05:17AM (#481365)

      Everybody who's ever had a Geocities site should be arrested too then.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @08:50AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @08:50AM (#481411)

        right, so what's the punchline?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @01:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @01:28PM (#481480)

      If sending flashing images to people who knowingly have epilepsy is a crime, then why isn't every spammer who uses those annoying strobe ads doing life in jail?

      The guy posted that he was trying to kill the victim. Seriously, this dumbfuck bragged about it.
      When a spammer starts bragging about trying to kill people they should go to jail too.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Monday March 20, @05:22AM (2 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Monday March 20, @05:22AM (#481366)

    On Friday, Eichenwald said that more than 40 people sent him strobes once they found out that they could trigger seizures

    Message to all my enemies:

    I have a deadly disease: I might have a heart attack if I see videos of naked top models making out. Please try to kill me.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @05:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @05:28AM (#481367)

      Please try to kill me.

      Would two girls one cup be enough?
      If positive, a search on google is easy, please proceed asap.

    • (Score: 2) by wisnoskij on Monday March 20, @10:14PM

      by wisnoskij (5149) <jonathonwisnoskiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday March 20, @10:14PM (#481816)

      That's not how it works. You have to be incredibly obnoxious, and start suing people to activate the Eichenwald effect.

      --
      Respect my Authoritah!!!
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @05:29AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @05:29AM (#481368)
    This sounds like a real-life Snow Crash. Someone gets a bitmap data file named ‘Snow Crash’, containing a virus that not only affects machines but causes brain damage.
  • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Monday March 20, @06:57AM

    by MostCynical (2589) on Monday March 20, @06:57AM (#481380)

    Flashing images in tweets?
    sounds like the solution is a crappy old "feature phone", preferably with less than 280x480 resolution..
    Or just don't use twitter (not sure this is realistic for a journalist)

    --
    (Score: tau, Irrational)
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Bot on Monday March 20, @08:58AM (5 children)

    by Bot (3902) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 20, @08:58AM (#481414)

    what probably happened:
    > troll sends seizure gif
    > guy receives it, the gif makes for less then 10% of his FOV
    > guy reads caption where troll openly admits malfeasance
    > guy eyes are now like $.$
    > "honey come here, we hit jackpot"
    and they all lived happily ever after

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @02:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @02:40PM (#481508)

      Jackpot of what? A basement-dwelling twitter troll isn't all that likely to be flush with cash and real estate...

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Monday March 20, @04:24PM (3 children)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 20, @04:24PM (#481564) Journal

      You don't get money from criminal proceedings.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @08:25PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @08:25PM (#481744)

        Criminal proceedings don't rule out civil action, and it can be easier to win a civil case (see OJ). The FBI already did the hard work of identifying a meatbag to sue.

        • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Monday March 20, @09:37PM

          by NotSanguine (285) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 20, @09:37PM (#481796) Homepage Journal

          Criminal proceedings don't rule out civil action, and it can be easier to win a civil case (see OJ). The FBI already did the hard work of identifying a meatbag to sue.

          civil vs. criminal burdens of proof [legalmatch.com].

          --
          No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, @01:48PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, @01:48PM (#482114)

          The FBI already did the hard work of identifying a meatbag to sue.

          And then you try to squeeze blood from a stone.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @12:29PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @12:29PM (#481461)

    or even display drivers/codecs/image libraries/players? perhaps some quick alogirithm to checks successive frames in advance before displaying if something is quickly flashing, then posting a warning, before the user agrees to view the content, or just simply disabling the maliscious frames (if it were in a video). maybe it can even be pre-analyzed (and forbidden) during upload? a media standard for aired video/movies (it might already be there though, especially after that pikachu incident)? sure it might be a technical challenge to implement all over, but might be worth it anyway. and robots for detecting copyright infringement are also already there anyway.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @12:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @12:32PM (#481462)

      on a similar note, something for audio would also be good. sudden jumps in loudness had always been an unpleasant experience when using youtube with headphones.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @06:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @06:25PM (#481655)

      (This post is UK-centric because that's what's easily found on the web. The rules probably differ under, say, the US's FCC, or equivalent bodies elsewhere.)
      There are appliances that do just that, known as "Harding boxes"; a list of them is in this PDF [amazonaws.com], and you're required to have a "pass" result from one of them before BBC will accept your program. Note that Professor Graham Harding's name is used to refer to a specific algorithm originally used for checking PSE safety, to a particular series of appliances and applications implementing that algorithm, and more loosely for any PSE checking device, whether it uses the original Harding algorithm or a different one.

      The rules to be implemented by such a check are laid out in Annex 1 (from p.15 on) of this PDF [ofcom.org.uk].

      There are essentially two concerns:

      • flashing areas of the screen
        • if neither color is "saturated red" (Is #ff0101 okay? #010000? not clear what "saturated" means here...), then:
          • no problem if minimum brightness over 160 cd/m^2
          • no problem if maximum and minimum brightness differ by less than 20 cd/m^2
        • no problem if total flashing area no more than 25% of screen area
        • no problem if no more than three flashes per second

        While specs are given in cd/m^s, which varies wildly by screen, they do give a curve for converting between cd/m^2 and video levels. This looks pretty straightforward to implement, subject to some questions about "saturated red". (I'm sure further reading would turn up the answers, just not sure why the OFCOM guidance isn't more clear.)

      • regular patterns, such as stripes -- too complicated to explain, and also pretty complicated to check for; go read the PDF if you care.

      Since flashing is the preferred tactic of PSE griefers on the web, I'd be inclined to check only for flashing, and ignore stripes.

      Note that any flashing that is less than 25% of screen area (e.g. 50% height by 50% width = 36% = no problem) is okay. That makes it even simpler -- block all animated gifs over 25% of screen size. For larger gifs, there's also the crude, though more invasive, expedient of enforcing a minimum delay of 167ms between gif frames; as a flash takes two frames, this enforces 3 flashes per second maximum. These are also usable, in conjunction with a classification algorithm, as mitigation strategies when playing back "bad" gifs; I see good gifs playing as normal, bad gifs less than 25% of screen are click-to-play, but then play normally, while large bad gifs are click-to-play with an enforced maximum framerate.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @07:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @07:51PM (#481718)

      I've been using Discord [discordapp.com] more often since some friends started hanging out on a "server" there.

      It does something that's really quite amazing. GIFs don't animate unless you mouse over them, and videos don't play unless you click the play button. As everybody here knows, there's nothing magickal about "mouseover" and could easily be changed to click as well for GIFs.

      Discord has solved this problem. It is a technical one, and it can be solved. What's Twitter's problem besides being the drama center of the internet?

  • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Monday March 20, @04:29PM

    by DeathMonkey (1380) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 20, @04:29PM (#481570) Journal

    Look at the hypocrites trying to defend this guy. These are the same people who scream censorship when Reddit doesn't want white supremacists on their site.

    Actually trying to kill someone for an opinion you disagree with is perfectly fine though. WTF!!

  • (Score: 2) by termigator on Monday March 20, @07:43PM

    by termigator (4271) on Monday March 20, @07:43PM (#481711)
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @09:40PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 20, @09:40PM (#481797)

    Battling Seizure Robots [youtube.com], FTW!

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