Dick pics: could AI help us realize a missed public health opportunity?
If you have been in an adult relationship or are simply dating in the twenty-first century, you are likely familiar with the classic “dick pic.” According to the Internet research company YouGov, over 1 in 4 millennial men have sent one and 53% of millennial women have received one. Enabled by the advent of sexting and “photo” features on online dating apps, the dick pic has become a well-known part of modern courtship.
Note: In the same YouGov survey, 60% of all women surveyed said that the dick pics they received were unsolicited. At First Derm, we unilaterally disavow sending and/or sharing such pictures between non-consenting parties. “Good” dick pics are, above all else, explicitly wanted. Please send respectfully and responsibly!
In the case of a willing recipient, a dick pic may be as informative as it is titillating. After all, the sender is likely to be a prospective sexual partner. Sarah (name changed for privacy), a 27-year old account manager and good friend of the First Derm team, recounted her own experience with us.
“I had been sent many dick pics in the past month, but there was one guy in particular who had what looked like spots on his penis. I was concerned it might be an STD, but felt torn between saying something and not knowing for sure.”
In Sarah’s case, we have a recipient kindly expressing concern about the health of the sender. In other cases, the sender may actively be asking for advice or soliciting opinions out of genuine concern for their own health. Regardless of who asks the question, the experience of not knowing what to do next is understandable. In the case of dick pics, even admitting that you are worried about potentially having an STD can be highly embarrassing. At First Derm, we have found that our anonymous platform is a way to give people like Sarah and her partner peace of mind. While not a replacement for the extensive training that dermatologists undergo to make clinical diagnoses, the Skin Image Search can serve as a reference point for those concerned about their sexual as well as dermatologic health. Our AI algorithm utilizes an image bank with thousands of data points on skin disease in genitalia ﹣currently the largest of its kind. As we receive more late night “dick pics” from senders and receivers alike, our accuracy continues to grow.
Sarah’s story ends well. From the privacy of her own home, she was able to upload the dick pic into our system and identify the spots she saw as Fordyce spots. These spots (glands) are akin to a birthmark on the penis, which is to say that they are present at birth and naturally enlarge along with the body. Her partner was STD-free and is now newly knowledgeable about his own body. Check out examples of other genital skin diseases that can be run through our free Skin Image Search:
- 6 skin rashes that can signify your partner has cheated on you
- Red Penis Rash: Pictures Symptoms Diagnosis & Treatment
Our intelligent database provides additional information on each disease and is a great resource for any “private” questions you may have about yourself or a loved one. If you are still concerned, you can ask a licensed dermatologist about your specific case via our anonymous First Derm telehealth service. Thanks for reading!
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. I moved to the Bay Area in January 2013 and I attended the School of Public Health, UC Berkeley from 2013 to 2014 as a visiting PhD candidate. My PhD thesis is on Digital Health and so far I have published 4 peer review scientific papers. I founded First Derm in 2014.