Twitter has decided to block the sharing of a certain file type on its platform, all in hopes of preserving a positive experience.
This week, Twitter officially announced (via Engadget) that it is removing the ability to animate PNG files on the platform. This is due in part to a report that individuals on Twitter hijacked the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter feed and flooded it with animated PNG files. And, as noted by Twitter, those uploads with that content do not “respect autoplay settings”. As a result, Twitter is removing support.
Twitter says the issue is related to a bug, and says it can cause performance issues for the site and a user’s device as well. As a result, Twitter fixed the bug and is blocking support for APNGs.
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
Those individuals hijacked the aforementioned feed and used hashtags to flood the platform with the animated PNGs, which could in turn cause some photo-sensitive and epileptic people to have a seizure. It’s worth noting that, in a subsequent update to Engadget‘s original post, Twitter says it’s not aware of any targeted attacks, but it’s simply removing support for animated PNGs due to the possibility of an attack like that.
Twitter does say it’s working on alternate text for uploaded GIFs, however, apparently to make up for this particular loss. That means that GIF support isn’t going anywhere, which is good news.
The change is already implemented, so support for APNGs on Twitter is now officially a thing of the past.