Web filters are seen by lots of people as some sort of silver bullet for so many of the ills they see on the internet, whether it's stopping piracy
or blocking child porn
or just "cleaning up the internet"
in general. But there's just one small problem with filters: they don't work
. Despite claims
from politicians and other groups, they simply aren't effective, and often end up blocking desirable content
while letting undesirable stuff flow through. Given the long history
of filter failures, it's a little surprising to see people who seem shocked that filters don't work. The latest example comes from The New York Times, which has discovered that YouTube's Safety Mode filters don't really work at all
. The company's weak defense of its poor filters seems more like a shrug of the shoulders than anything, creating an impression that the filters are there for appearances and little else. The NYT does deserve some credit, though, for recommending that parents take an active role with their kids in helping them determine for themselves what's inappropriate viewing material on YouTube. That's really the bottom line: you can't expect filters to replace parenting.