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How does a porn blocker work? (the basics)

The internet has become nearly impossible to get away from. 

And while it has done a lot of good, it is certainly (like most things) a double-edged sword.

Pornography and adult content are more prolific and accessible than ever before in human history. To address this problem, numerous tools and software solutions have been developed, commonly known as porn blockers or content filters. In this article, we will explore how porn blockers work, the methods they employ, and their effectiveness in safeguarding users from explicit content.

Understanding the Need for Porn Blockers

Simply put:

Porn blockers are designed to restrict access to explicit adult content, thereby providing a safer online experience, particularly for children and individuals who prefer to avoid such material, or perhaps those who are dealing with a porn addiction.

These blockers are typically utilized by the following people/groups of people:

  • Parents
  • Employers/organization heads (schools, etc.)
  • Those who want to help develop better control/self control over their internet browsing habits.

Mechanics of Porn Blockers

There are several different method that a porn blocker can use to do its job. We'll discuss the four most common methods.

1. Blacklist Filtering

One of the simplest methods employed by porn blockers is blacklist filtering

This involves maintaining a database or list of websites and URLs known to contain explicit content.

When a user attempts to access a website, the porn blocker cross-references the URL with its blacklist. If the URL is found in the list, the blocker prevents the user from accessing the site, typically by displaying a warning message or redirecting them to a safe page.

This is the most common method of blocking porn, and is almost always used in conjunction with other methods.

BlockerX employs multiple tactics, including blacklist and keyword filtering, along with an accountability system.

BlockerX employs multiple tactics, including blacklist and keyword filtering, along with an accountability system.

2. Keyword Filtering

The second most common approach is keyword filtering.

This method involves scanning the text on a webpage for specific keywords or phrases associated with adult content. If a webpage contains such keywords, the blocker will block access to that page.

The problem with using this method on its own is that it relies on being "taught" what these keywords and phrases are, those of which can often change and/or expand.

3. Image and Video Analysis

Modern porn blockers may employ advanced image and video analysis techniques to identify explicit content.

These systems use algorithms that analyze the visual characteristics of images and videos to determine whether they contain adult material. This method enables the blocker to block access to explicit content that may not be detected through URL or keyword filtering alone.

Covenant Eyes, uses this method, alone with the others mentioned here. We definitely recommend trying them out.

4. DNS Filtering

Domain Name System (DNS) filtering is another technique employed by porn blockers.

DNS filtering works by intercepting and redirecting DNS requests, which translate domain names into IP addresses.

When a user attempts to access a website, the blocker intercepts the DNS request and checks it against a blacklist. If the website is flagged as explicit, the DNS request is redirected to a safe page or blocked entirely.

NordLayer is a solid DNS filtering service, great for both homes and businesses.

NordLayer is a solid DNS filtering service, great for both homes and businesses.

This method, which is basically a more centralized version of blacklist filtering, is particularly effective when you're trying to deal with multiple devices, perhaps for a large family or a business environment.

These are some of the best DNS filtering solutions we recommend for both home and business.

Try it: NordLayer DNS Filtering

Effectiveness and Limitations

While porn blockers can be effective tools for filtering explicit content, it's important to acknowledge their limitations.

The effectiveness of a porn blocker depends on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of its blacklist, keyword lists, and image recognition algorithms, and it's nearly impossible to maintain a perfectly updated and exhaustive database, considering the vastness of the internet and the continuously evolving nature of online content.

Furthermore, determined and/or addicted individuals may find ways to bypass or disable porn blockers, especially those with technical expertise. It's crucial to supplement the use of porn blockers with other measures, such as open communication, education, and parental supervision, to ensure comprehensive protection.

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