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Government told to confront tech giants about videos that trigger epileptic fits

MPs were warned of the potential deadly consequences (Tim Goode/PA)
MPs were warned of the potential deadly consequences (Tim Goode/PA)

The Government is being pushed by an MP to confront social media giants about potentially fatal videos designed to trigger epileptic fits.

Clare Pelham, chief executive of the Epilepsy Society, recently warned that epilepsy sufferers are “regularly” targeted on social media with flashing images, describing them as “deliberate, hate-filled crimes”.

Last week, she told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee that the charity has been forced to recruit a person dedicated to finding and reporting posts intended to cause fits.

In response, Committee chair Julian Knight has written to new Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries urging the Government to take immediate action and not wait for it to be included in the Online Safety Bill.

Julian Knight
Julian Knight wrote to the Digital Secretary saying Government should not wait the Online Safety Bill to address the issue (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

“Sending a video designed to trigger an epileptic fit, carrying the potential to be fatal, is completely unacceptable,” Mr Knight said.

“The main platforms should not allow this to happen and and should be ordered to investigate a technical solution to ensure that people with epilepsy do not risk their health simply by opening a message online.

“We urge Secretary of State Nadine Dorries to hold social media companies to account on this matter – it should not have to await consideration in the Online Safety Bill.”

More than half a million people in the UK have epilepsy – around one in 100 people – according to the charity.

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