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Dermatology Sites - Bad Skin Sin Is In

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April 19, 2006

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Sometimes smart people seem pretty dumb when it comes to using their common sense. Perhaps, we all have a tendency to excuse stupidity as a naïf belief in the goodness of human nature. For example, many of us have been reckless about the security of personal property at one time or another, only to be shocked when an unguarded object is stolen. You feel foolish but you blame your trust in others rather than your carelessness.

That's what seems to be the case in a Reuters Health story (04/18/06), when the curators of a dermatological website finally pieced together that a searchable database of naked photos might lead to them being used for something other than diagnosing skin conditions.

The site in question (never specifically named in the article) had 7800 dermatological images of which 5.5 percent were of genital areas but with 12 percent of all search queries focused on erogenous zones. Meanwhile, another anatomy-related site had 37 percent of all requests searching for the genital regions, along with 12 percent of its 10,000 free text queries targeting images of genitalia.

The dermatology site also discovered that 21 percent of the sites posting a referral link to their database are pornographic or fetish sites, although said links only accounted for about 14 percent of traffic generated from referrals.

It is surprising with some of the strict enforcement policies of the US Government against other non-pornographic sites that medical materials seem to go unchecked as far as any proof of age restrictions go.

I looked for any inoffensive image I could find to post alongside this story in numerous dermatological databases. Finally, I cheated a bit by taking a "before" photo from a breast reduction operation on a plastic surgery site. After seeing graphic thumbnails of things like gangrene of the testicles, I think that I'll keep to lingerie catalogues and the National Geographic for my free glimpses of flesh.

Posted by Will Peters at April 19, 2006 10:35 AM

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