Today I sent out my newsletter, Digital Education, and because today is Safer Internet Day the word “pornography” appeared. And guess what? The newsletter was blocked by a Local Authority’s filtering system. I’m not sure whether or not this is worse than the time I was told my website was blocked – because it featured an article about social networking.
These systems are ridiculous. Does anyone actually search for “pornography” on the internet? Wouldn’t they be more likely to search for something more specific? (Don’t worry, I’m not going to run through the possibilities.)
So, what if I changed the spelling, eg to “pawnography”, or “p**n”? Would the newsletter or article get through then? And if so, if I can think of doing that, wouldn’t the kids?
I emailed them to explain it was Safer Internet Day today, and received an automated message back. If the matter was urgent, there’s a phone number I can use. Well, I don’t know if it’s urgent or not. If the subscriber was relying on my newsletter for resources or ideas for Safer Internet Day, then I suppose it was. The main point is that someone didn’t receive articles which may have helped them in their mission to protect children, so this filtering system has arguably done more harm than good.
Wouldn’t it be better for a filtering system to flag up a message to say something needs investigating, if particular words are used, rather than just blocking? If a system can’t be made intelligent, then it needs to be ditched or supplemented by a person who can make intelligent judgements.