Last week, Kelsey Bressler woke up, checked Twitter, and found a photo of a stranger’s dick in her DMs. Understandably, she was not pleased—“Nothing like waking up to an unsolicited dick pic,” she tweeted before messaging the stranger back to tell him his antics were not OK. A friend Bressler met online through activism work saw Bressler’s tweet and offered to make something she, and every other person who’s experienced cyberflashing, would want: a filter that can recognize and automatically remove penis photos.
Bressler, like many women, is intimately familiar with this type of online harassment. According to research from Pew, young women in particular are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment online; 53 percent of women 18 to 29 years old said they’d received an explicit image they did not ask for. Another survey by market research company YouGov found that 78 percent of millennial women said they’d received an unsolicited dick pic. As men send their willies willy-nilly via dating apps and social media messages and abuse iPhones’ AirDrop feature to penis-spam their fellow passengers on the subway, Texas and New York City are working to criminalize “cyberflashing.”