Spamming bots, potential viruses, indecent and offensive content and of course downright illegal material. The internet is filled with content that we as consumers want to avoid and block out. And it’s not just the parents looking to protect their children. The need to keep young people from having to be exposed to certain material is of course an important one but they are by no means the only group of people who content filtering software developers are working around the clock to protect. The problem though lies in simple numbers. For every developer working on a way to hone their content filters, there are tens if not hundreds of others working on ways to get around the current and upcoming protection software.
The problem that protection developers face lies in the limitations of a computer in outthinking a person. There are quite simply billions of webpages on the internet and hundreds of thousands to millions of new ones are uploaded every day. As it would be quite impossible for humans to be checking through all this, we must rely on technology’s ability to view, analyse and then assess the content of each page. In fact, the programs used these days are very smart indeed.
The new search engine updates have made it very difficult for spamming infomarketers to unfairly push their way up searching ranks, and major platforms have reinforced their email clients’ spam filtering criteria to catch the increasing number of spam emails that appear to come from consumers’ own bank. Image data scanners are now even capable of measuring the percentage of an image that is showing pixel colour which matches skin tones, the higher percentages flagging sites up as potentially pornographic.
In spite of these innovative and forward thinking solutions, in each case, they require the predefining of set parameters. While they are now very smart, as soon as computer program parameters are set, there is the scope for an individual to find a way around them. The very mechanisms which make each filter better are also creating the possibility for loopholes and backdoors for those who know what to avoid and how to avoid it. As a result content filtering development companies do their best to keep their algorithms and criteria secret but in the absence of this task ever reaching a 100% certainty, the onus must lie on consumers to be actively involved in the filtering process through their own browsing habits.
Avoid the Traps – Be Proactive
It is quite common knowledge now for people to avoid opening attachments in emails from senders they don’t know. There is a good awareness of this historically typical way spyware entered our hard drives. Less people though are familiar with the ability of search engine plug-ins and temporary cookies to achieve the exact same thing when users simply click through to a website or put in certain search criteria in their toolbars.
The wrong cookies will continue to throw up banner advertisements that are deemed relevant to past internet searches and do not take into consideration the fact that several people may use the same computer. Certain search engine toolbars will also use this information to change the rankings on search terms, throwing up results that are considered to be “relevant” according to historic activity on a computer.
From a parental point of view, the two things that can be done here are firstly to regularly clear the internet cache and delete all temporary internet files (cookies) and then secondly avoid using family computers for any form of adult content. This of course doesn’t refer solely to explicit material of a sexual kind, any site that is gambling related, rated to have parental advisory language and violence falls into the same category and is linked to pornographic material. Simply logging onto your favourite casino for a few hands of blackjack could result in your child seeing adult entertainment links and banners pop up in their search engine browsing later on in the day, week or month.
Help the Experts
Sending error reports seem to be a pointless venture to many. They don’t stop to consider that the more information developers have, the better they will be equipped to resolve problems. The same applies to content filtering. Your service provider will be pushing to provide the most comprehensive content protection system but it can use your help.
When untoward information finds its way through the net, instead of simply complaining about technological inefficiencies, take the time to send a quick report to the provider. They will be able to analyse the site and its content to establish why their filter was ineffective and then work on a solution to prevent it happening again.
If we consider that the fight to reclaim the internet as the liberating and informative resource it should be is a joint venture, away from those who aim only to take advantage of the internet and its users for negative gain, we can work together to create the safest environment possible for all.