Faces and Feet and Hands, oh my!

Imagine: it’s Wednesday evening, you’ve just gotten off work, and you’re struggling to come up with a meal that fits your family’s needs. An idea strikes you, and you reach for your phone and google “easy chicken recipes.” A promising YouTube video pops up in the results, and you open the link to a grandmotherly type, smiling in the frozen frame with her pans and mixing bowls. Eager, you click the play button and the video starts with her talking about comfort food and family time.  You just know this chicken dish is what’s for dinner as you pull out your skillet, eyes on the chef as she does her thing.  She starts talking about the chicken, and the camera zooms in on her gesturing hand, floating just above the raw meat sizzling in the pan. That’s when you see… an Iris block screen? What’s up with that?!?

What’s up with that indeed?

The short answer is that hands are flesh. Along with feet and faces, our users report the most frustration over videos that feature close-ups of these appendages because they trigger unnecessary blocks. Unfortunately, the reality is that a close-up of any bare body part has the potential to register as nudity.

Why can’t it tell that it’s a hand/foot/face, and not porn?

We’re working on that. We did successfully create a version that didn’t block these appendages, but what we gained in lack of false positives, we lost in efficient porn blocking.  After all, these are bare hands, feet, and faces, and beyond having the nudity in common, they are all featured fairly heavily in pornography. It was great that it had stopped blocking these things, but not great that it struggled to block porn as a result. In the end, the tradeoff wasn’t worth it, so we scrapped it and started over.

Is there any good news?

Yes! Long time users of Iris will notice that the newest release of Windows (1.4.0) has significantly improved dynamic content blocking. What does that mean? Instead of blocking because of a hand and making you wait 30 seconds before it can unblock, it rescans almost immediately and will unblock if there isn’t pornographic content. My experience with it is that it’s very often almost like it didn’t block at all.

I know it seems like not blocking close-up appendages should be a no-brainer, and an easy fix when it’s experienced. Unfortunately, a lot happens behind the curtain to make the product work. To us, blocking porn quickly and accurately is more important than not blocking non-sexual nude body parts. We are, of course, working on being able to accomplish both, but until then, take comfort in the fact that eradicating porn from your devices is just as important to us as it is to you.

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