Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C. Portland Criminal Defense Attorneys
FREE Case Review email Location
Main Menu Office Location

Potentially dangerous tweets can bring criminal charges

A type of cybercrime that marks "a new era," according to one computer scientist has gained nationwide attention recently. A 29-year-old man was arrested for sending a tweet to Newsweek's Kurt Einchenwald that was intended to cause the famed journalist, who suffers from epilepsy, to have a seizure.

It accomplished its intended task when he opened the tweet, which contained a flashing image, back in December. According to Eichenwald, he'd received a similar tweet just a few weeks before. He says he dropped his iPad as soon as he saw it, so avoided any harm that time.

According to authorities, the man who sent the tweet was upset by Eichenwald's critical coverage of Donald Trump. They say that his tweet read, "You deserve a seizure for your post." Unfortunately, the incident sparked copycat actions by others sending images with strobe lights to the journalist.

There are other ways besides social media to send potentially dangerous images. In 2008, hackers put seizure-inducing images on the Epilepsy Foundation's website. Fortunately, although some of the site's uses experienced unpleasant symptoms, reportedly none of them suffered seizures.

Although about 4 percent of Americans have some form of the epilepsy, very few have seizures triggered by flashing lights. Authorities say that the man who sent the image, who lives alone in the house where he grew up, apparently knew of Eichenwald's sensitivity to light.

Other types of cyberattacks can cause serious and even deadly consequences. It's possible to hack into a pacemaker or an insulin pump, for example. Fans of the television series "Homeland" may remember an episode in which terrorists killed the U.S. vice president by hacking into his pacemaker.

It remains to be seen whether the man accused in this case uses a free speech defense. However, using the internet to intentionally harm someone can carry with it serious legal consequences.

Source: Washington Post, "Seizure-inducing tweet leads to a new kind of prosecution," Max Ehrenfreund and Antonio Olivo, March 18, 2017

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Contact Us To Schedule A Free And Confidential Initial Consultation

We are committed to delivering the dedicated, intelligent advocacy and personal service you deserve to help you through a difficult situation. Call us today at 888-311-2016 or send us an email below.

Send Email

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C.

741 Southwest Lincoln Street
Portland, OR 97201
Portland Law Office Map
In portland: 503-224-1104
Toll Free: 888-311-2016
Fax: 503-224-9417