Every day more and more parents face the need to make the decision on whether allow their children to access the internet and its extensive resources to raise better informed and connected persons or surrender to equally extensive and invasive contents that just don’t fit their parenting ways and keep them away of a computer. And this is not limited to porn content but also any political, religious, military, hatred and many other kinds of contents parents may find inappropriate for their children.
FoxFilter, developed by Dywayne Johnson (Inspired Effect) adds a content filtering layer to Firefox that will keep away a large amount of unwanted content. You start by defining a list of keywords you want to filter out. These words will be checked in every page’s title, keywords, description and body and even the URL, which is important to prevent performing web searches for the keywords, a somewhat redundant and welcome added protection.
You can define certain sites to be displayed even when the keywords are found if you find these safe to visit and can customize what to look in for the keywords (title, description , URL, body).
Access to FoxFilter preferences, is obviously password protected (default password foxfilter, don’ t forget to change it) and a short message in the status bar shows if it is enabled. Unfortunately, the extension can be easily disabled from the Add-ons manager, so I recommend using FoxFilter in combination with Public Fox, another great extension I recently reviewed, that allow to selectively block certain configuration areas including the Add-ons manager.
Both of them however can be turned off if Firefox is started in safe mode, a somewhat trivial procedure. Parents may want to at least delete the shortcut from the Windows Start menu.
Some enhancements I’d like to see: White list mode to limit access to a list of 20 or so known-good web sites. Web addresses black list, this will help with deep linked content. In the cosmetic side, the preferences window looked too wide in my tests for no apparent reason. And I would like to see the status bar message reduced to an icon.
All in all, a very recommended extension, specially for parents who want to protect their children from casual access to unwanted content. However, determined kids should have not much trouble getting around this first line parental control.
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