The New York TimesThe New York Times

A Dad Took Photos of His Naked Toddler for the Doctor. Google Flagged Him as a Criminal.

By Kashmir Hill

21 Aug 2022 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

The NYT tells the difficult story of how Google’s automated tool to detect abusive images of children can sometimes get it wrong—with serious consequences for one family.

Mark noticed something amiss with his toddler. His son’s penis looked swollen and was hurting him. Mark, a stay-at-home dad in San Francisco, grabbed his Android smartphone and took photos to document the problem so he could track its progression.

It was a Friday night in February 2021. His wife called their health care provider to schedule an emergency consultation for the next morning, by video because it was a Saturday and there was a pandemic going on. A nurse said to send photos so the doctor could review them in advance.

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