Profanity filters can make it easy for children to enjoy content on the web without being exposed to harmful or profane content. Profanity filters also offer moderation for adults that want to protect themselves from harassment or abusive content.
Profanity filters help improve the internet by eliminating or replacing offensive words. They’re used with great success in gaming, streaming, social networks, and even online dating. Some of the best tools for profanity filtering include:
- Advanced Profanity Filter – a free browser plugin.
- Netflix Profanity Filter – ideal for censoring profanity on Netflix.
- ClearPlay – a paid streaming moderation tool.
- Vidangel – another paid profanity filter for streaming.
The internet can be an unfriendly and distasteful place. Social media platforms, forums, and streaming sites alike have lots of profane content. If you want to be protected from harassment, or if you want your children sheltered from mature content, using a profanity filter can help.
What is a Profanity Filter?
Profanity filters are essentially filters that utilize algorithms to censor offensive words, swears, or other forms of bad language. They usually have a long list of profane words. Whenever these words are used by members of a community or displayed in a motion picture, the algorithm automatically substitutes them with synonyms, replaces them with symbols, or mutes that section of the audio.
Some platforms filter profanity by default. An example of this are multiplayer games. Chatting in-game, or in the lobby before a game, is an integral part of the multiplayer experience. But when you gather hundreds of thousands of people in the same place, you can expect a few people to use unpleasant words or harass other players. That’s why profanity filtering is automatically activated for game chats. Because such games cater to a larger age demographic, profanity needs to be filtered actively.
In other cases, you can enable profanity filtering yourself. For example, Facebook and Instagram both have profanity filters you can turn on if you want to protect your page from offensive comments.
But there are a lot of platforms with no built-in content moderation tool, especially in streaming. In that case, third-party apps can ensure a family-friendly user experience.
The Benefits of Profanity Filters
Profanity filters help create a more respectful, family-friendly, and inclusive internet experience. They’re not a foolproof protection against discrimination and offensive content. But they’re an integral part of content moderation.
- Streaming is one area where filtering profanity can enable a family-friendly experience. Third-party software can mute audio whenever swear words come up, grey out subtitles, and even skip entire sections that are not safe for children.
- Multiplayer video games also benefit a lot from profanity filters. Gaming and toxicity have a very complicated relationship, which especially comes to light in multiplayer interactions. Profanity filters don’t solve the problem in its entirety, but they help remove some of the negativity. If you want to know more about protecting your children while they’re gaming, read our articles on Roblox and Minecraft.
- Social platforms aren’t free of toxicity either. Quite the opposite. Cyberbullying is a worrying problem in the 21st century, and a lot of it is taking place on social media. Profanity filters can help mitigate some of the negative impacts of cyberbullying and create safer spaces.
- Dating sites also use profanity filters. They are extremely important to protect disadvantaged minorities, like members of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Again, profanity filters aren’t the end-all-be-all solution many make them out to be. But they’re a reliable way to cut down on profane content, allowing people to enjoy the internet. And they complement other content moderation tools really well.
The Limitations of Profanity Filtering
Profanity filters have a lot of benefits, but they also have a few limitations. Here are a few.
- People can circumvent filters in online communities. They usually do this by using the synonyms of swear words or an alternate spelling.
- Online users can still offend their peers with subtle statements that ignore any deny list of words. So while offensive language is limited, a simple profanity filter is never the only content moderation tool that you should use.
- A profanity filter doesn’t stop online harassment. Rather, it acts as a barrier between the most blatant forms of abuse and their victims.
On the plus side, profanity filtering technology for streaming doesn’t have any limitations. As long as you turn on the software, it will censor offensive scenes, or words meant for mature audiences.
More advanced filters that use AI to analyze user interactions will provide better user experience in the future. But right now, they’re not readily available. Companies still need to rely on traditional content moderation tools.
If you need features other than profanity filtering, you may need to get a parental control app. These robust solutions include features like website blocking, social media monitoring, location tracking, and more.
How to Activate a Profanity Filter on Facebook or Instagram
A lot of the platforms we use on a daily basis have swear filters by default. Facebook and Instagram are good examples. Not to mention, some are customizable. People can add their own words to the deny list of the filter.
And for the platforms that don’t have their own profanity filter, applications like ClearPlay or Vidangel can provide the censorship families need in order to enjoy online content, or social networks.
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t have a profanity filter that parents can unlock to protect their children online from all profane content site-wide. However, Facebook has a profanity filter for pages. So if you have a page on the platform, you can censor the language your followers can use.
Here’s how you can activate the Facebook profanity filter:
Make sure you’re interacting on Facebook as your page. You can usually do this by simply opening the page.
- Click on “Settings” in the left-side tab.
- Scroll down to “Profanity Filter”
- Click on “Edit”.
- Tick the check mark.
- Press “Save”.
This will enable a profanity filter based on the words most often reported by the Facebook community. Unfortunately, it doesn’t let users customize the deny list of censored words. And it only works for pages, not personal accounts. But it’s still a helpful tool to create a respectful community.
Instagram’s profanity filter is more advanced. You can turn it for business, or personal accounts, and you can customize the words you want it to censor. This is a wonderful tool for Instagram users, especially since the platform is more focused.
To turn on Instagram’s profanity filter, here’s what you’ll have to do:
- Open your profile.
- Click on the three horizontal lines in the top-right corner.
- Open “Settings”. They’re at the top of the list.
- Go to “Privacy”.
- Click on “Hidden Words”. This will open a menu with a lot of options for profanity filtering.
Instagram’s default deny list is also based on community feedback. But users can always add their own words to the deny list, and have that hidden from them and their followers.
Instagram turns on the basic profanity filter by default. However, users can enable a more rigorous version of it, or add custom hidden words to it.
The 4 Best Profanity Filters You Can Use Today
There are third-party profanity filters that you can use to filter out abusive or profane content on the web. Here are the four best options you can choose from.
1. Advanced Profanity Filter
Advanced Profanity Filter is a browser extension that works with Chrome and Edge. It has an outdated interface, as you can see here:
But Advanced Profanity Filter is completely free to use and quite reliable. It secures any form of online communication, whether that’s text messages on Twitter, or audio while streaming.
Here are some of its features:
- You can choose the filter method. Advanced Profanity Filter offers censorship, substitution, or removal.
- You can see a summary of the filtering process.
- You can add words or phrases to the filter.
Advanced Profanity Filter also mutes the audio, and censors the subtitles of content you stream. This makes it a brilliant choice to enjoy online media with your family. It’s also compatible with a lot of online services, including Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crackle, HBO Max, Peacock, YouTube, and more.
However, Advanced Profanity Filter has some limitations while streaming. They’re not indexing the media productions themselves – they’re just analyzing the subtitles of each show or movie you watch. So if any profane word comes up in the subtitle, they’ll censor it. But if the audio doesn’t match the subtitles well, the plugin won’t be able to mute the content at the right time.
2. Netflix Profanity Filter
The Netflix Profanity Filter is a browser plugin, like the Advanced Profanity Filter. It works in the same way too. They source the subtitles of a show or movie, and censor words in the text. The moment that censored text syncs up with the audio of the content, they also mute that.
However, The Advanced Profanity Filter can do all of that, and it supports more streaming sites. For a well-rounded experience, we recommend you use that, not the Netflix Profanity Filter.
ClearPlay is a more advanced profanity filter, built primarily for streaming. Its creators partnered with content distributors like Netflix or Disney+ to create a more robust and comprehensive filtering system.
However, ClearPlay isn’t free. It has a free trial, and after that it costs $7.99/month. But you get your money’s worth. They do manual censorship for each individual show or movie. Before streaming something, ClearPlay users can choose what they want to filter from that specific movie. They can also choose to skip, replace, or mute offensive and profane sections.
ClearPlay supports the big platforms for streaming – Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max. However, they don’t censor their entire library. You can check the supported movies and shows on ClearPlay’s website. This is ideal for family users. For instance, dedicated filters are available for big titles like Hamilton or Mulan on Disney+.
Vidangel is a very similar app to ClearPlay. It mutes or skips scenes from online content that you can stream. The difference is in supported platforms. Vidangel only works with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and smaller online platforms.
On the other hand, Vidangel has better support for streaming devices. It works extremely well with things like Roku, Chromecast, or Fire TV Stick.
Like ClearPlay, it offers a breakdown of what it censors for each show or movie you want to watch. But it is slightly more expensive, costing users $9.99 each month.
Parental Control Options: Do They Help?
A lot of apps have parental control options. Netflix is a good example of this. Their parental control is tiered. As a parent, you can set your kid’s account to a stricter, or lighter degree of content censorship.
Windows also has its own parental control system, as do most other operating systems. To turn them on, parents usually have to set up a special profile for their children. Windows is even planning to release its own profanity filter in the future.
And these options definitely help with profanity filtering. But in most cases, they’ll just limit the content available for children. The Netflix Parental Control just gives access to a curated list of shows and movies for your children.
This means that Parental Control options don’t usually moderate user-generated content. It limits the amount of content they can interact with. For parents that want to give their children access to more content, but limit the graphic or vulgar parts of it, profanity filters are still a requirement. All content moderation tools help create a safer internet for the little ones. On top of that, parents can take extra safety measures to protect their children online.
Apart from profanity filters, you can also check out our detailed guide on internet safety for kids and teens. If you want to find out more about that, check our Kids Online section.
If our article didn’t answer all of your questions about profanity filters, feel free to check the FAQ section below.
A profanity filter is a software, or algorithm from a software, that censors swear words and other sensitive content. Most often, profanity filters have a deny list of words that they’ll censor. Some of them allow users to add their own words to a deny list.
They work with social media communications, as well as in-game chatting and family-friendly streaming. If you want to find out more about profanity filters, read our article here.
Roku doesn’t have its own profanity filter. However, there are a lot of third-party profanity filters that you can use on Roku. Vidangel is a great profanity filter with support for Roku devices, so if you want a family-friendly night of streaming, that’s a good choice.
Netflix doesn’t have its own profanity filter. However, tools like ClearPlay, Vidangel, or Advanced Profanity Filter all have support for Netflix. There’s a special plugin for Netflix, called the Netflix Profanity Filter, but there’s not a big difference between that and the Advanced Profanity Filter. We recommend the latter thanks to its wider range of supported platforms.
Amazon Prime doesn’t have a profanity filter of its own. However, users can install third-party software to ensure a family-friendly experience while on the platform. If you want to find out more about profanity filters, and which one to use, read our article here.
ClearPlay and Vidangel are both fantastic movie filtering services. ClearPlay works with more streaming platforms, and it’s slightly cheaper. Vidangel on the other hand has better support for more device types, like Roku, Chromecast, or Fire TV Stick.
ClearPlay is $7.99 per month. The first month of use is free, however, so parents can try it before committing to a monthly subscription plan. If you want to find out more about profanity filters, and how to use them, read our article here.
You can use a profanity filter together with a VPN with no issues. Profanity filters don’t interrupt network settings or a VPN’s activity.
The specific process depends on the profanity filter you use. Some don’t even let users add their own words to the deny list. However, in most cases you’ll need to open the settings of an app, or of a third-party profanity filter. If it lets you add words to the profanity filter, you’ll find an option for it there.