Twitter bans animated PNG files after online attackers targeted users with epilepsy

Twitter is banning animated PNG image files (APNGs) from its platform, after an attack on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter account sent out similar animated images that could potentially cause seizures in photosensitive people.

Twitter discovered a bug that allowed users to bypass its autoplay settings, and allow several animated images in a single tweet using the APNG file format.

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“We want everyone to have a safe experience on Twitter,” the company says in a tweet from the Twitter Accessibility handle. “APNGs were fun, but they don’t respect autoplay settings, so we’re removing the ability to add them to Tweets. This is for the safety of people with sensitivity to motion and flashing imagery, including those with epilepsy.”

Tweets with existing APNG images won’t be deleted from the platform, but only GIFs will be able to animate images moving forward. According to Yahoo, Twitter has further clarified that APNG files were not used to target the Epilepsy Foundation, but the bug meant such files could have been used to do so in the future had Twitter not moved to squash it.

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The attacks on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Twitter handle occurred last month — National Epilepsy Awareness Month — with trolls using its hashtags and Twitter handle to post animated images with strobing light effects. It’s not clear how many people may have been affected by the attack, but the foundation said it’s cooperating with law enforcement officials and has filed criminal complaints against accounts believed to have been involved.

An animated image can be considered a deadly weapon, a Texas jury found in 2016, after a man sent a flashing GIF to journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who has epilepsy. The image did indeed cause Eichenwald to have a seizure.

Twitter said Monday it will “look into building a similar feature that’s better for you and your Twitter experience” in lieu of APNGs.

Source: The Verge

The post Twitter bans animated PNG files after online attackers targeted users with epilepsy appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Early, quality antenatal care can reduce birth of preterm babies

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A medical expert, Dr Gbemisola Boyede, Consultant Paediatrician and Founder of “Ask The Paediatricians Foundation”, an NGO, stressed the need for early and quality antenatal care to reduce complications affecting preterm babies.

Boyede disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, in commemoration of the World Prematurity Day, annually celebrated on Nov. 17 to raise awareness on preterm birth and concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide.

The theme for 2019 World Prematurity Day celebration is “Born Too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place.’’

Preterm babies, also known as premature, are babies born before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy.

A 2018 World Health Organisation (WHO) report states that premature birth is a leading cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide and may lead to health issues with long term health problems that may affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.

According to the medical expert, the day is set aside to increase awareness on preterm births, as well as deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple proven cost effective measures that can prevent it.

She said “it is important to prevent prematurity because of the difficulties babies go through to survive. The most important strategy is essential and high quality antenatal care.

“Experienced mothers, don’t do ‘too-know’ and wait unti last trimester before registering for antenatal care because each pregnancy is different. Early registration will help doctors to pick out high risk pregnancy that needs more specialist care.”

She explained that mother’s age, multiple gestation, excessive maternal activity/stress, infections and substance abuse are some of the risk factors that may lead to preterm birth.

She added that acute or chronic maternal illness, abnormalities involving the womb, detachment of the placenta, low economic status, black race, previous preterm birth, abnormal trauma/surgery are other risk factors that could contribute to preterm deliveries.

The paediatrician noted that most preterm babies’ organs were not fully matured and had sub-optimal function, hence they often encounter difficulties in adapt ing to life outside the womb.

“ These problems are also related to the degree of prematurity, the more preterm the more the likelihood of problems. Some of these problems are early and some could be long term,’’ she said.

She noted that some of the early difficulties of preterm babies may include birth asphyxia with hypoxia (inadequate oxygen) especially to the brain, jaundice, poor control of body temperature, low blood sugar, infections, bleeding in the brain.

According to her, poor growth, learning disability, behavioral disorders, hydrocephalus (big head), epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing and visual impairment, intellectual disability and increased risk of child abuse and neglect were possible long term complications.

Boyede stressed the need for antenatal care in high risk pregnancies and their deliveries in hospitals to access specialists and appropriate care for mothers and babies, which would enable them to manage challenges that might arise.

She added that “preterm babies, especially the very small ones born less than 32 weeks, must be managed in hospitals neonatal intensive care and placed in incubators.

“They will be managed by paediatricians until they are fit to be left alone with the mother.”

She, therefore, advised mothers with preterm babies to ensure regular follow-up visits at the hospital, maintain excellent care and hygiene in the home environment, regulate temperature by wearing appropriate clothing, feed according to paediatrician’s directives.

Boyede encouraged pregnant women to ensure they receive Tetanus Toxoids (TT) immunisation, anti-malaria, iron and vitamin supplements, use insecticide treated bed net and avoid smoking and alcohol.

She called on government to invest more in newborn intensive care resources, which would promote access to better care.

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This startup just raised $8 million to help busy doctors assess the cognitive health of 50 million seniors

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All over the globe, the population of people who are aged 65 and older is growing faster than every other age group. According to United Nations data, by 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65, up from one in 11 right now. Meanwhile, in Europe and North America, by 2050, one in four people could be 65 or older.

Unsurprisingly, startups increasingly recognize opportunities to cater to this aging population. Some are developing products to sell to individuals and their family members directly; others are coming up with ways to empower those who work directly with older Americans.

BrainCheck, a 20-person, Houston-based startup whose cognitive healthcare product aims to help physicians assess and track the mental health of their patients, is among the latter. Investors like what it has put together, too. Today, the startup is announcing $8 million in Series A funding co-led by S3 Ventures and Tensility Venture Partners.

We talked earlier today with BrainCheck co-founder and CEO Yael Katz to better understand what her company has created and why it might be of interest to doctors who don’t know about it. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.

TC: You’re a neuroscientist. You started BrianCheck with David Eagleman, another neuroscientist and the CEO of NeoSensory, a company that develops devices for sensory substitution. Why? What’s the opportunity here?

YK: We looked across the landscape, and we realized that most cognitive assessment is [handled by] a subspecialty of clinical psychology called neuropsychology, where patients are given a series a tests and each is designed to probe a different type of brain function — memory, visual attention, reasoning, executive function. They measure speed and accuracy, and based on that, determine whether there’s a deficit in that domain. But the tests were classically done on paper and it was a lengthy process. We digitized them and gamified them and made them accessible to everyone who is upstream of neuropsychology, including neurologists and primary care doctors.

We created a tech solution that provides clinical decision support to physicians so they can manage patients’ cognitive health. There are 250,000 primary care physicians in the U.S. and 12,000 neurologists and [they’re confronting] what’s been called a silver tsunami. With so many becoming elderly, it’s not possible for them to address the need of the aging population without tech to help them.

TC: How does your product work, and how is it administered?

YK: An assessment is all done on an iPad and takes about 10 minutes. They’re typically administered in a doctor’s office by medical technicians, though they can be administered remotely through telemedicine, too.

TC: These are online quizzes?

YK: Not quizzes and not subjective questions like, ‘How do you think you’re doing?’ but rather objective tasks, like connect the dots, and which way is the center arrow pointing — all while measuring speed and accuracy.

TC: How much does it cost these doctors’ offices, and how are you getting word out?

YZ: We sell a monthly subscription to doctors and it’s a tiered pricing model as measured by volume. We meet doctors at conferences and we publish blog posts and white papers and through that process, we meet them and sell products to them, beginning with a free trial for 30 days, during which time we also give them a web demo.

[What we’re selling] is reimbursable by insurance because it helps them report on and optimize metrics like patient satisfaction. Medicare created a new code to compensate doctors for cognitive care planning, though it was rarely used because the requirements and knowledge involved was so complicated. When we came along, we said, let us help you do what you’re trying to do, and it’s been very rewarding.

TC: Say one of these assessments enables a non specialist to determine that someone is losing memory or can’t think as sharply. What then?

YZ: There’s a phrase: “Diagnose and adios.” Unfortunately, a lot of doctors used to see their jobs as being done once an assessment was made. It wasn’t appreciated that impairment and dementia are things you can address. But about one-third of dementia is preventable, and once you have the disease, it can be slowed.  It’s hard because it requires a lot of one-on-one work, so we created a tech solution that uses the output of tests to provide clinical support to physicians so they can manage patients’ cognitive health. We provide personalized recommendations in a way that’s scalable.

TC: Meaning you suggest an action plan for the doctors to pass along to their patients based on these assessments?

YZ: There are nine modifiable risk factors found to account for a third of [dementia cases], including certain medications that can exacerbate cognitive impairment, including poorly controlled cardiovascular health, hearing impairment and depression. People can have issues for many reasons — multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s — but health conditions like major depression and physical conditions like cancer and treatments like chemotherapy can cause brain fog. We suggest a care plan that goes to the doctor who then uses that information and modifies it. A lot of it has to do with medication management.

A lot of the time, a doctor — and family members — don’t know how impaired a patient is. You can have a whole conversation with someone during a doctor’s visit who is regaling you with great conversation, then you realize they have massive cognitive deficits. These assessments kind of put everyone on the same page.

TC: You’ve raised capital. How will you use it to move your product forward?

YK: We’ll be combining our assessments with digital biomarkers like changing voice patterns and a test of eye movements. We’ve developed an eye-tracking technology and voice algorithms, but those are still in clinical development; we’re trying to get FDA approval for them now.

TC: Interesting that changing voice patterns can help you diagnose cognitive decline.

YK: We aren’t diagnosing disease. Think of us as a thermometer that [can highlight] how much impairment is there and in what areas and how it’s progressed over time.

TC: What can you tell readers who might worry about their privacy as it relates to your product?

YK: Our software is HIPAA compliant. We make sure our engineers are trained and up to date. The FDA requires that we put a lot of standards in place and we ensure that our database is built in accordance with best practices. I think we’re doing as good a job as anyone can.

Privacy is a concern in general. Unfortunately, companies big and small have to be ever vigilant about a data breach.

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