24 January 2020
Twitter has announced a ban on the usage of animated PNG (APNG) files on its platform. The aim behind the move is to prevent situations where such files can be used to trigger seizure attacks among photosensitive people. It even discovered a bug that allowed users to bypass Twitter's autoplay settings.
The bug eventually made it possible for users to add multiple animated PNG files in a single tweet. Twitter thinks that the bug could have been used to target photosensitive people including those affected by epilepsy. It should be noted that even though some early reports claimed that the Epilepsy Foundation's Twitter account was hacked to target its followers, Twitter has denied such claims. It said that the ban has been imposed to avoid any such potential situation in the future.
Using PNGs for animation is difficult. APNGs are orders of magnitude larger than normal preview images. This can mean a slower app, increased memory use and even crashes. These problems make for an unpleasant Twitter experience, and there's little that can be done to avoid it. https://t.co/IsWwIm6mYz— Twitter Engineering (@TwitterEng) December 23, 2019
Twitter has further clarified that all older tweets with APNG files will not be deleted. The ban is in place for all future contents. It means if you are someone who preferred sharing content in this file format, you have no choice but to make a switch to the animated GIF file format.
Since GIFs are already a widely used file format, the ban is unlikely to have an effect on a big number of users. Most of the users will not even notice that the change has been implemented but Twitter says it will surely offer a safe experience on the platform.