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Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Lula West

Trump Supporter Arrested For Sending Reporter A Seizure-Inducing Tweet

Trump Supporter Arrested For Sending Reporter A Seizure-Inducing Tweet

He is a senior writer at Newsweek magazine, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a best-selling author of books including The Informant. Once Eichenwald viewed the tweet, he suffered a seizure.

Mr Eichanwald wrote in an article in Newsweek in October than one of Mr Trump's supporters, who used the twitter handle, "Mike's deplorable AF" had carried out the "cyber assault" by tweeting the strobe image to him.

Cyberspace is filled with harsh exchanges.

The odd case has revealed how apparently innocent online tools can be deployed as weapons capable of physical injury.

On Friday, Eichenwald tweeted that the suspect was in custody and facing federal charges, a fact Gizmodo later confirmed with the FBI in Dallas. John Rivello, from Salisbury, Maryland, was due in court today on charges of cyberstalking. The image, we're told, induced an epileptic fit in Eichenwald, who lives with his family in Dallas, Texas.

In 2008, trolls posted hundreds of epileptogenic graphics to an online message board run by the Epilepsy Foundation in the United States, causing some patients to suffer headaches or seizures. The statement did not name the alleged victim.

It also contained screenshots from epilepsy.com with a list of commonly reported epilepsy seizure triggers as well as reports from the Dallas Observer discussing Eichenwald's report to the Dallas Police Department and his attempt to identify the Twitter user who sent the strobe image. He had been critical of Trump throughout the presidential campaign a year ago. He wanted to learn the identity of Twitter user @jew_goldstein, an account that has since been suspended. "The video was some sort of strobe light, with flashing circles and images of Pepe flying toward the screen". It's what's called epileptogenic-something that triggers seizures. Writing about the incident in Newsweek at the time, he said he expected more attacks to follow.

After the attack was reported in December, Stefano Seri, a professor of neurophysiology at Aston University in the United Kingdom, said the material in the tweet must have been carefully constructed. He said he did go into convulsions.

Investigators say the search warrant also showed a screenshot of Eichenwald's Wikipedia page in Rivello's iCloud account, with the page being edited to list Eichenwald's death as December 16, 2016.

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