Regulation fail: Twitter pulls ‘massively dangerous’ Vine ads after epilepsy warning

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In June 2015, Twitter pulled a brightly flashing Vine ad from its website Friday after receiving complaints from an epilepsy charity. This case study looks at why brands and publishers need to consider the medical implications of their ads.

The original ads were posted via Vine, Twitter's looping video platform, to promote Twitter's #DiscoverMusic campaign, which is trying to attract more artists to the social network.

The two Vines had six seconds of flashing video, designed to promote new artists and loops a six second clip of bright colors.

Epilepsy Action said @TwitterUK’s new #DiscoverMusic campaign was dangerous, as it could potentially produce seizures in people who have photo-sensitive epilepsy.

With 65 million people diagnosed worldwide, and Twitter’s extensive online presence, the ad represented a potentially serious problem. And “flashing bright lights or patterns” is a commonly reported trigger, according to the charity.

“Marketing communications should not include visual effects or techniques that are likely to adversely affect members of the public with photosensitive epilepsy,” the Advertising Standards Authority told the BBC.

The ad ran for a full 18 hours before it was pulled down.

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