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For my kid's account on OSX El Capitan, I've turned on Parental Controls, with the Web settings to "Try to limit access to adult websites". This causes non-adult websites to fail to load. For example, edx.org works for a while then inexplicably, Safari/Chrome can't access it. The same happens with nytimes.com. ping and traceroute to these sites eventually fail also.

Why?

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It's not a perfect system because there's no way for any filter to know exactly what the content of a site is or whether it's an "adult" site or not. This is from Apple's site explaining the filtering:

When "Allow unrestricted access to websites" is selected, the Internet content filter logs websites that the account visits but does not restrict Web browsing. Visited websites are still logged and can be examined in the Logs tab of Parental Controls preferences.

When "Try to limit access to adult websites automatically" is selected, the Internet content filter does its best to block websites with inappropriate content. To do this, the Internet content filter uses the same technology that the Mail application uses to identify "junk" mail. The Internet content filter can identify, with a high degree of accuracy, whether a Web page is safe or not by examining various properties of the website including text and structure. Additionally, the Internet content filter will block a website if the website identifies itself as adult-oriented using RTA (http://www.rtalabel.org/) or SafeSurf (http://www.safesurf.com/ssplan.htm) rating systems, as well as forcing "safe" searches with some search engines.

In this mode, the Internet content filter logs all visited and blocked websites, and flags them as such in the Logs tab of Parental Controls preferences. In certain situations, the automatic Internet content filter may mistakenly block a safe website or allow an adult-oriented website. For example, if the website uses an uncommon language or if there is very little text on the page. These websites can be identified in the Log tab of the Parental Controls preference pane and added to the "Always Allow" or the "Never Allow" lists. These lists can also be accessed by clicking the Customize… button in the Content tab of Parental Controls preferences. Websites that are mistakenly blocked can also be allowed by clicking the "Allow…" button on the blocked web page and authenticating as an administrator user.

So there's no way you're going to be able to do perfect filtering.

  • I'm not sure why a major website like the nytimes would get blocked though. Surely well-known stuff like that ought to be on a global whitelist, right? – Wowfunhappy Jun 18 '16 at 21:02
  • I understand there's no perfect filtering but edx.org and nytimes.com should not be getting filtered. BTW, netflix.com is another site that has problems when PC are active. – Sajee Jun 18 '16 at 21:20
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    They could be carrying stories that would trigger the filters (because of specific words or images). It's up to NYTimes and others to make sure their sites are whitelisted from those filters. If the answer addresses your question, be sure to accept it to help others who might have the same question. – fsb Jun 18 '16 at 23:19

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