2 minute read

FAQ Friday: “But, I didn’t go to that website!”

Last Updated: April 17, 2015

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

People use Covenant Eyes accountability software for a variety of reasons. Some are severely struggling with or addicted to Internet pornography and they want a trusted friend to walk through the recovery process with them. Some have rarely struggled with the temptation to view Internet porn, and they use the software to make sure they never do.

I can imagine the frustration anyone must feel if their accountability partner calls them up and asks them about a highly rated site on their report . . . a site they don’t remember visiting.

When we take calls at the Covenant Eyes office, this is one of the most common comments heard: “But, I didn’t go to that website! Why is it on my report?” This is a great question. If you are a Covenant Eyes accountability partner, it is important for you to understand how to accurately read the report(s) you receive.

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How to Read the Report

It is important to understand that when a Covenant Eyes user visits a Web page, the report doesn’t show the overall rating for that page alone. Each Internet page is made up of several, perhaps dozens of little parts—text, banners, pictures, ads, stories, video clips, links. Each of these parts has its own separate Web address, its own URL, and each of those addresses receives its own rating by our rating system. If you see a high rating on a report, you can find out what “parts” of that page were specifically rated high by looking at the more detailed logs.

For example, my own report reflects that I visited YouTube.com last month (I go there all the time). YouTube appeared in the “Highest Ratings” section of my report. Next to site name, youtube.com, I see the high rating. If my accountability partner is concerned about this rating, then all he needs to do is click on “youtube.com” in the report to open up the detailed browsing logs. After this is opened, he will be able to see every individual URL that my computer accessed from YouTube, and beside each URL he can see the ratings for those URLs, with each high rated address highlighted.

Inevitably, if I surf the Web, I will likely run into a highly rated addresses, perhaps even something pornographic. Even if my intentions are pure, the page I am viewing may contain an ad, a banner, an image, or a link that has a high rating. If I don’t click on that link, then my detailed logs will show a few high rated hits, showing that I possibly ran into some kind of temptation.

If, however, I had clicked on a high rated link on YouTube, it would have taken me to a different page, a page with its own links, stories, pictures, and banners, many of which are likely to be rated high. The more I click on these links, the more the detailed report will reflect a greater volume of high-rated hits.

In other words, the detailed reports reflect the temptations we face and the choices we make online.

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So, I did go there?

Yes and No.

Yes, each URL on your report was accessed by your computer, even if you weren’t aware of all the URLs on each page you opened.

No, every URL on your report was not something you “clicked on.” When accountability partners understand this about the report, this will make the accountability process much easier.

 

– – – –

Got a Question?

Breaking Free will be tackling a frequently asked question about Covenant Eyes and our software every Friday. If you have any questions for Covenant Eyes, please email me at luke.gilkerson@covenanteyes.com, or post a reply to any of these blog posts. I’ll prioritize and try to answer the questions as they come in.

  • Comments on: FAQ Friday: “But, I didn’t go to that website!”
    1. gaili on

      i notice that IE has an in private viewing option whereas the pc does not store the viewed history. If this is an option for prople then how will Covenant eyes accurately account for viewing history ? Gaili

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Thanks for your question, Gaili. I wrote a post about this back in September last year. You may want to read that. Our software stores the browsing history on our servers and isn’t dependent at all on the user’s Internet history stored on their computer.

    2. Greg Michaud on

      Does Covenant to Eyes trap history of browsing on the computer before Covenant to eyes installation/activated date?

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @Greg – Good question. The answer is no. Covenant Eyes will begin tracking a computer’s browsing after the installation, but anything viewed prior to installation is no recorded anywhere in our servers. Thanks.

    3. Kent on

      gr8 work guys @ CE!! Was wondering if a package could be customized for our organization a church. We aren’t comfortable with offshore logging but like all the features offered by CE!! As a tool to protect as many internet users in our congregation, it would be best if the logging of visited sites is enabled while IP logging is anonymized or partially blanked out 111.111.11x.xxx. The reason is that we require a non-discriminatory prevention and cure measure. We would like to deter, assess and monitor access to undesirable content but would like e privacy of our users maintained. With the detailed reports of multiuser accounts we will be able to advise or promote safer content via redirection. So we hope this service will offer kid & teen safe redirection. We plan 2 have as many accountability partners possible right down to individual users. So system acts like a early warning system. If we happen to notice unhealthy trends we would be able to advise or address e issue in both open and confrontational manner. Quality internet use would be encouraged by peer influence & accountability etc. If there is no anonymization, most members will not support our collective accountability decision & opt out. So it would b gre4t if such feature is added real soon. It also helps protect our church fr baseless allegations of members having addictions to this & that.

      many thnx!!\\

      Kent

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Thanks for the comment, Kent. I’ll have one of our associates get back to you ASAP.

    4. Stuart Bascas on

      Well said, but my experience is that this simple truth seems to be falling on deaf ears. Every month, hosts seem to be lowering their prices and offering packages which are clearly not financially viable, and potential customers just lap them up, going for the lowest bidder, and then getting disgruntled when they can’t get a hold of customer service or the server is under a supposed “ddos attack” for days.

      Reply
    5. Veronica on

      I am currently holding someone accountable and have read your faq section, but I still have some unanswered questions. I have seen in the course of say a few months how the report looks when he goes on something thats actually considered pornographic, versus something that is questionable, versus what your report view as the report is looking good. I have some questions regarding Facebook specifically, is the covenant eyes literally like a giant eye that sees all thats enterd/typed in emal ect as well as what links are gone to on the internet? I am noticing that the score for Facebook has gone up signifigantly, is that something to address, since there are sometimes when his score is as low as 7, then recently sometimes its been 13-14. Now for the first time ever its a 25! The thing is normally I can view the detailde report this time however its not letting, it keep saying that it cant be found. How exactly are you basing these scores when they vary as much as they have? Please help me with this, its a big concern!!!

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @Veronica, thanks for you questions. Let me try to unpack some answers for you.

        Facebook is a word minefield. I mentioned this in a post about MySpace a while back. Because people can write anything they want on their Facebook pages or the pages of their friends, and because these pages change so quickly because of the number of people adding comments, scores on a specific page can change considerably in a short span of time. For instance, my Facebook page might have a lower score of 7 one day, but then a person might write a comment including an objectionable word the next day and the score will go up to 13 or 14 or even 25. If there is a greater density of these objectionable words, the score might go up even higher.

        To make matters more difficult, people can delete those comments or change them, so the page as it originally looked when it was accessed may be no longer be viewable.

        Generally speaking a score of 25 is a higher score, but still in the range of what is considered “questionable.” Usually 25 does not mean a pornographic link was displayed or accessed. That would be for scores 30 and above. If I were this person’s accountability partner and I saw a lot of these on a report, it would be cause for a good conversation. But keep in mind, (1) I am not this person’s partner. If you know this person well, you might know what their specific weaknesses are. You know best how to craft your conversation with them. (2) Covenant Eyes doesn’t just hold you accountable to the “porn” temptations you face online, but also to the “gray” areas that might be titillating or suggestive. I wouldn’t start the discussion with, “So, have you been looking at porn?” Instead, I might say something like, “So, I’ve noticed you spend a lot of time on Facebook and at times you get scores that are as high as 25, which means there are probably some questionable words or images on the page. Have you noticed these? How have you dealt with them?”

        If I get more information from you, Veronica, I’d love to give you a more specific answer. Until then, I hope this helps you understand our accountability reports better.

    6. Catch on

      These blogs, along with your FAQ pages, have really covered a lot of ground in helping me thoroughly understand what CE is and is not. Great job and MUCH gratitude for providing this service to us …..

      I have one question that I cannot find answered, either directly or indirectly, through the blogs and FAQ. As an accountability partner who is new to this site, I just started viewing the reports and all those details in them. (Funny thing, after clicking dozens of URLs I figured it out that they are just components of a page being recorded all at the same time, then your blogs/FAQ confirmed this! ;) I also realized our time zone was incorrect when I stumbled into the activity being recorded at that time ….. i.e. I revised the report a few times and saw new activity – then assumed he might possibly be online while I was reading the reports.

      At some point shortly after that no new information was being recorded (i.e. he was probably done/offline) and I kept an eye on this for over an hour, checking back often to see if anything else came in before deciding to log out and call it a night. Then, when I logged in today I saw a load of new information that was recorded just minutes after it appeared that all his activity just stopped …. but which I could not see online until today.

      So my question is this ….. what is the time delay in getting details from a report after any online activity from those we are supporting? I see in the reports that CE records in 15 minute increments, yes? My reason for asking, or my thinking about how this information might be helpful, is that I understand my partner well enough to know when he may be more inclined to be triggered or vulnerable to temptations. If I am able to keep reasonable tabs during those times, I may be able to throw him a lifeline before anything gets too far for him. This could be as simple as sending a quick text with something positive (unrelated to his browsing) just to interrupt the pattern. Or give a quick “random” call to check in and see how his day is going. Anything to help him not feel isolated or disconnected. Make sense?

      Anyway, it doesn’t seem that this program has any sort of “real time” feed – and I’m not sure if that’s even possible or necessary. I just want to know how old the information is that I’m looking at ….. especially since correcting the time zone didn’t seem to improve accuracy and it took at least 12 hours for me to be able to view the next 15-30 minutes of activity that was recorded.

      Thank you for your help, your clarity, and your support!!!

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @Catch – Thanks for your question. If I understand you correctly, you were periodically checking in on your Partner to see if there was any new activity. Seeing nothing for a stint of time, you stopped checking. Then the next day you saw a block of Internet activity after you had assumed his activity had stopped.

        It is important to understand that the software does not report activity instantaneously. As someone begins to surf the Web, the software starts logging all the URLs that are accessed. After a batch of them have been accessed, that batch list is sent to our servers where the information is processed. The size of that “batch” is set to be randomized. At times it is a small amount; other times larger. This randomization is one of the ways we help prevent people from circumventing our system.

        What probably happened is your Partner was using the Web, a batch of URLs was sent to our servers, and he continued to surf, though not enough to have a new batch sent to us in the time frame you were observing. You logged out, called it a night, and he continued surfing, at which point another batch was complete and the information was sent to our servers.

        Does this make sense?

    7. Catch on

      Yes, this makes sense. Thank you! ;)

      Reply
    8. Kelly Felten on

      Facebook keeps showing up on the report. My husband is not allowed to view social media. If he goes to a site and there is an embedded “like” or “share” button, does it automatically show on his report? Or does he actually have to click on the “like” or “share” button?

      Reply
      • Annelise Hoshal on

        Hello Kelly,

        Thank you for contacting us and for your question! The short answer to your question is, yes. If a ‘like’ or ‘share’ button is embedded on a website unrelated to Facebook then there is a definite possibility that those are where the Facebook entries on the report are coming from. It does not need to be clicked on in order for it to show on the report. The biggest difference you’ll see is that the Facebook entries might be listed as ‘WEB CONTENT’ whereas other website entires, ones that he was actually visiting, will appear as a ‘VIEWED PAGE’.

        If you have any other questions please feel free to contact our Customer Service at 877.479.1119.

        Best regards,
        Annelise

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