FBI arrests Twitter troll for seizure-inducing tweet to Dallas journalist Kurt Eichenwald

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The perpetrator who tweeted a seizure-inducing image to a journalist has been apprehended by the FBI. In December, a troll sent a rapidly flashing, auto-playing image to Vanity Fair and Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald, a known epileptic and Donald Trump critic.

On Friday, Eichenwald tweeted that, following three months of research, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested the 29-year-old suspect John Rayne Rivello of Salisbury, Maryland. Eichenwald, who lives in Dallas, says that the perpetrator faces federal charges and will be indicted by the Dallas district attorney on “different charges” over the next few days.

Exactly what those charges will be aren’t clear. The FBI hasn’t issued a press release regarding the arrest as of publication time, and a spokesperson hasn’t responded with additional information yet either.


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Combined with the recent arrest regarding a Twitter prank that almost brought down the 911 emergency service, this is further proof that what you do and say on Twitter can have real-world consequences. Especially, in this case, where it was used to cause harm to a user.
According to Newsweek, some 40 other trolls have sent strobing images to Eichenwald since December, and those accounts have been submitted to the FBI as well.

“We’re very gratified that the government has worked hard and promptly to make sure that the person who was responsible for this attack is held to account,” Eichenwald’s lawyer Steven Lieberman told the publication. “It sends an important message that there is no free shot against journalists in the country,” he added.
Lieberman said that this tweet wasn’t an effort to curb free speech, equating it to sending an envelope of Anthrax spores or a bomb to someone. “It wasn’t the content of the communication that was intended to persuade somebody or make them feel badly about themselves; this was an electronic communication that was designed to have a physical effect.”


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