Protect Your Kids
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FAQ Friday: “Does the Covenant Eyes Internet Filter Allow or Block YouTube Sites?”

Last Updated: April 22, 2015

Quick answer: It does both. Our filter does not simply block all or allow all of YouTube videos. Each page on YouTube is individually rated for content. Specific pages are then allowed or blocked depending on the sensitivity of your filter settings.

What is YouTube?

YouTube is only three years old and it has already played a huge role in Internet culture. According to some estimations, YouTube is the second most visited website on the Internet. As the most popular video sharing website out there, it has played a major role in networking, marketing, and political campaigns, and is even creating its own brand of celebrities. YouTube brought the world of online video sharing to a whole new level.

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Censoring YouTube

The community guidelines of YouTube specifically prohibit pornography or sexually explicit content. It also asks people not to post videos that portray drug abuse, under-age drinking and smoking, animal abuse, bomb making, gratuitous violence, “gross-out videos,” or hate speech. YouTube is largely policed by YouTube viewers: when a video is posted that might be in violation of these guidelines, the video can be “flagged” by any viewer. YouTube staff review these flagged videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and either remove them or place age-restrictions on them.

That being said, even if YouTube staff is ruthless about eliminating sexually explicit videos, this does not mean that all sexually alluring or suggestive videos are eliminated. For many who are wanting “not even a hint” (Ephesians 5:3) of immoral sensuality in their life, YouTube can be a bit of a minefield.

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How does Covenant Eyes Rate each Page?

On each YouTube video page there are dozens of URLs. Each page may have links to related videos, promoted videos, and links to personal profiles (or channels). Plus each page may also contain descriptions of the video and comments from past viewers. All of these elements go into numerically rating a particular page.

Depending on your filter sensitivity settings, some YouTube pages will be blocked, others will not. Plus, the Filter Guardian can block or allow specific YouTube pages, by listing them in the “Always Block” list in General Settings and Overrides, or overriding the General Settings. Currently most YouTube pages are rated very low, so our filter allows many of them.

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A Warning About Embedding Videos

YouTube allows viewers to embed videos from YouTube into a personal Web page or blog. The embedded video can then be viewed from that site.

One of the more unpredictable features of embedding videos is the list of “related videos.” If I embed a video I like into my blog, I can also view videos that YouTube categorizes as “related.” These are likely to change with time as more and more videos are added to YouTube.com. So even if a video I embed is benign, I can’t control what appears as a related video.

For example, because pornography is a common subject on this blog, if I find a good video that relates to the harmful effects of porn, I want to be able to share it with our readers. However, if I were to embed this video into our blog, there may be a whole host of “related” videos that are pro-porn in nature.

To prevent an inappropriate related video from popping up, YouTube allows viewers who want to embed videos to turn off this feature. Click on “Don’t show related videos” under the embed code. This is found just to the right of the video you want to embed.

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For More Information

Covenant Eyes YouTube Channel

Find out about how our website rating system works

Find out more about how our dynamic filter works

A message from our president about YouTube ratings

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Got a Question?

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

  1. Does covenant eyes filter twitter and Instagram?

    • Amanda Powell

      Hi Scott,

      We can block HTTPS sites, but because of the encryption we can’t block individual pages within an HTTPS domain.

      So, we need to prevent the site from being accessed altogether. We have noticed with some pages the domain has to be entered to the blocked list for the blocking to be effective. So that means, we can block https://twitter.com, but we’ll have to add twitter.com to the blocked list for this to take effect.

      Because there are a number of different IP ranges that resolve to Twitter.com, we will need to block these as well:

      199.59.148.82
      199.59.149.230
      199.59.150.7

      Also block:

      abs.twimg.com

  2. Yes, Bryon, at times blogs that have benign themes can be rated high because of the presence of certain keywords. If you feel a site has been rated in error, just email us to let us know. We receive many rating-change requests.

    Also, your accountability partner (AP) can look closer that the detailed browsing logs and open specific URLs to see if there is something objectionable. I’ve noticed that the more an AP views reports, the more he/she is quick to identify so called “false positives.”

    In reality, most of what is called a false positive is actually rated correctly given our age-based rating system. This is why we are careful to not label higher rated pages as “pornography.” We use words like “could be highly objectionable” because different accountability partnerships will have different standards of what is considered “objectionable.” We try to draw a very wide circle of objectionable material so that we don’t miss anything.

    Our blog posts, at times, have higher ratings than others, given that we talk a lot about sensitive sexual material. Hopefully your AP doesn’t mind too much when they see Covenant Eyes blog on the report. :)

  3. I wonder what rating shows up on my report when I come to this blog. I’ve had some rather benign blogs come up in my report and I find myself stammering out excuses to explain my innocence. I stammer because I know my heart is wicked, but this time I really didn’t do anything.

    I swear.

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