Nothing quite dampens the mood like opening your phone to a picture of a dick pic that reminds you of a helpless earthworm displaced after a rainstorm—especially if you didn’t ask for it. And now, in the state of California, senders might think twice before sending their wieners out into the ether.
On Friday, California passed the FLASH (Forbid Lewd Activity and Sexual Harassment) Act, which will allow recipients to file lawsuits and civil complaints for receiving unsolicited lewd online content. As the Washington Post reports, “harmed” recipients of cyberflashing, or sending “unsolicited” and “obscene” photos and videos, can seek up to $30,000 in civil damages from the sender—quite the price tag for a rush of adrenaline that... probably isn’t even that big.
The bill was, interestingly, co-sponsored by Bumble, the dating app that boasts feminism via its “women first” model that empowers women to make the first move. The app’s support for the legislation followed surveys that found that nearly one in two of their American users had been on the receiving end of a dreaded unwanted nude. Bumble also had a hand in the passing of a cyberflashing law in Texas back in 2019, which criminalized the action as a Class C misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $500. This past year, New Hampshire and Virginia similarly deemed sending unsolicited lewd online content a misdemeanor.
“The law passing in California is a huge deal for women across the nation,” Bumble’s Public Policy Chief for the Americas, Payton Iheme, told The Post. Iheme hopes that other states will follow suit with similar legislation. Bumble aims to push for similar bills in states like Maryland, New York, and Washington, D.C., where legislators have expressed interest.
The horrors of cyberflashing have reached sky high, with senders abusing the AirDrop feature on their phones to mass-send dick pics while aboard flights. In late August, a Southwest pilot threatened to turn a Cabo-bound plane around if a passenger didn’t stop airdropping his peen to his fellow passengers. On a different Southwest flight in June, a man similarly airdropped his dick pics for all to reluctantly see, leading to his arrest shortly after the plane landed. Despite the chaos this X-rated content is causing, Southwest and other major airlines, including Spirit, United, Delta, and Alaska Airlines, don’t seem to have plans of action beyond threatening to delay passengers’ vacations.
And while Bumble is trying to get a hold of things land-side, that doesn’t mean that other online platforms are in the clear. The New York Post recently reported that Instagram’s “close friends” feature is also being used to send dick pics without recipients’ consent, breaching the wholesome camaraderie and trust oft elicited by having an IG inner circle to begin with.
As the digital world continues to be inextricable from our everyday lives, new legislation like the FLASH Act make clear that our online actions do have real-life consequences. So dudes, next time you feel the masculine urge to send a photo of your dick to someone who didn’t ask for it, ask yourself: “Is this worth shelling out $30,000 for?” We promise you, it’s not.