App & Website Filtering

How to Block Porn on Social Media

Limiting access to adult content within social media is challenging, but possible. Learn several effective approaches to blocking porn within social media.

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Tech Lockdown Team
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Updated June 22, 2024

If you've tried to limit social media to counter adult content, then you've probably encountered some problems. Many platforms make a serious attempt to limit pornography, but it's almost never perfect. Plus, disabling the NSFW filter option can be easily undone. Is there a better way that you can block porn on social media specifically?

There are several unique challenges that you first need to consider when dealing with social media. Unfortunately, it's a lot tougher to enable this level of control over mixed content websites, since all types of images or video can be freely uploaded and shared:

  1. Social media moderation tends to be relatively lax, or the sheer volume of content being uploaded is enormous. Automated tools can help with the vast majority of moderation, but it often comes down to manual review.
  2. It's easy to create new accounts and bypass any parental controls that might be enabled.
  3. Social media has a social dimension. It's common for family members to exclusively use a particular platform that might cause issues for you.

So, when looking for an effective solution, you should find one should attack each one of these problems directly. That can be tricky to do, since there are multiple platforms that follow their own rules. Fortunately, this guide will provide some techniques that years of experience has found to be effective.

Disable Images or Video

One of the best ways to limit the vast majority of temptation is to block the images or videos hosted on the platform directly. This still allows you to use other features, like messaging or voice chat.

For example, one of the major platforms notorious for its "vast" amount of content is Reddit. Chances are you are aware of the NSFW tag, which by default blurs explicit content. You're probably also familiar with the "Show NSFW Content" and "Blur NSFW Images" settings on the Reddit app and website. There's a better way to block images, but this is Reddit wants you to do it.

Where do I find these settings?
It will depend on which platform you use. On smartphones, it's usually found on the Settings options for that app. For the web version, click on your user icon on the top right, then select User Settings. Check under Feed Settings.

By default, blurring images should be enabled, but that may not be true for recommending or showing images.

The better way is to block the Content Delivery Network that hosts images to begin with. Note that this will block all images, but not comments or posts themselves.

The same trick can work for video. Reddit's CDN is separate from its main website, so the main functionality (like comments or posts) won't be as affected. We can't go into the exact implementation details here, but you check out our enforcing an NSFW filter on reddit blogpost to learn more.

For many platforms, the same trick applies. Another perfect example is YouTube thumbnails:

On YouTube, there are some better ways to restrict adult-themed videos more effectively (we'll look at more of these later in this article). However, blocking the CDN for other platforms, such as X (aka Twitter) is also possible.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to research how to do this for every platform. Fortunately, we at Tech Lockdown have tried to make this as easy as possible, with the help of a DNS Content Policy.

We currently have rule presets that can block images on Twitter (stubbornly rebranded as X), Twitch, Reddit, and YouTube.

We are currently working on adding more presets, so if you have one in particular that you would like us to focus on, please feel free to let us know .

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Enforce the NSFW Option Outside of Account Restrictions

With some platforms, it's possible for you to force the NSFW option regardless of account settings. This isn't true for all of them, but it is on some of the most widely used platforms, especially YouTube.

YouTube in particular has a strict mode that can be easily enabled across an entire home network. We have a comprehensive guide to filtering content on YouTube that explains how to do this.

While web browsers might not qualify as social media, the process for forcing Safe Search on a search engine is very similar to enabling strict mode on YouTube. Note that while Safe Search might be enabled on a browser, it doesn't mean that it's impossible to access adult content. 

Unfortunately, this won't apply to most platforms. Unless you use parental controls within each platform, there isn't a way that can restrict explicit results in the same way you can on YouTube. That's why we typically recommend blocking images or videos on those platforms instead.

Alternatively, some social media platforms have a trimmed down version of their app that only focuses on messaging. We take a look at some of the options in the next section.

Use the Messenger Version of the App

If you have family members who use a particular social media to host your family's group chat, then it might be a better option to try the messenger version of the app.

As an example, you can use the Facebook messenger app instead of the full Facebook experience. You can still send text messages and even use the video chat feature.

The same applies to Instagram's alternative, Threads . Most of the video search features are disabled, and you are limited to content shared within the platform.

Unfortunately, not many other social media platforms have the same options either, so this is a bit limited.

Only Use the Web Version

If you need to have even more control over what you're able to access on social media, then you might consider using the web version instead of the app. There are a couple of reason why:

  1. You can more accurately filter out specific channels, users, subreddits, or specific keywords with URL filtering .
  2. There is a more definite paper trail. Accountability is an important part of the porn recovery process , so keeping history of your activity might be a powerful way to resist temptation.

Many web browsers also have extra features that might be useful. For example, Brave Browser can block advertisements on YouTube or other websites pretty easily. 

Weed Out Platforms that are too Problematic

Sometimes, the best way to deal with adult content on social media is to just block it altogether.

Most platforms do make a sincere effort to limit pornography on their website. However, trying to limit features might not be the most effective way, since it might be too easy to disable, or introduce other problems. If that's the case, consider blocking it outright.

You can choose to block social media altogether, or instead block it according to a schedule. This is a very common way to combat adult content, and many people we've helped in the past have tried it to great success.

This is such a common problem, that we've created several guides that explain the best way to for each platform:

Social Media

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Block social media completely

On the Tech Lockdown dashboard, you can easily block specific apps or entire categories of apps that you want to block:

Schedule your social media usage

You can even choose a schedule for that rule.

Implement the Default-Deny approach

We also highly recommend the Default-Deny approach to blocking apps. You can create a rule that blocks all social media apps, then specifically choose to allow apps that aren't a problem, like LinkedIn:

More advanced techniques

We go over some more advanced techniques available for each platform on our block social media guide, freely available on our website. However, Tech Lockdown members will get access to premium guides that explain how to enable more restrictions for smartphone devices with managed mode.

Block apps with Managed Mode/Device Management

Managed Mode allows you to outright block apps from smartphone devices. Earlier, we mentioned that a DNS Content Policy can't prevent an app from being installed. Device management works very well with a Content Policy and can prevent the app from being allowed on your smartphone in the first place. It's much more advanced than an AppLocker and can allow you to remotely manage which apps are installed on your device, in addition to uninstalling them as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to block social media in order to quit porn?

It depends on the person and platform. We usually advise people to block anything they don't need that's a source of temptation for them. However, you may find that this isn't necessary, and you can just choose to limit certain features within social media.

For example, use the Default-Deny approach, and block all but the social media apps that you know are safe. For example, you may want to block any social media with images, but not Discord or Signal.

The short answer is not necessarily. However, it's not uncommon to fall under the temptation to relapse. If that's the case, then the safest option is always to block it.

How far should I go with preventing bypass?

This is a very difficult question to answer. We have addressed this problem in our how far should you go blogpost.

What's the difference between Managed Mode and a DNS Content Policy?

Managed mode is a restriction that you can enable on most smartphone devices. It allows you to impose restrictions that are normally not possible to do with an app installed on the system, such as controlling what apps are allowed to be installed.

A DNS Content Policy is way for you to limit certain kinds of content (like websites or apps) by blocking their connections to the internet. You can still download an app blocked by your Content Policy, but this app won't have connection to the internet. This can apply for both the app and web version of the platform.

What does "DNS Content Policy" mean?

A DNS Content Policy is a set of rules that control what kind of websites, apps, or other content is allowed to be accessed from a device. In order for the device to follow these rules, it will need to be connected first.

How do I connect a device to my DNS Content Policy?

There are two main ways:

  1. Install the version of the client supported on your device. This will allow you to enforce an Always-On VPN that can't be easily disabled.
  2. Manually set your device's DNS settings to point to your Content Policy. Doing this is a bit more advanced, but also makes it a bit more difficult to disable for the average person.
  3. Connect your home router to automatically start filtering each device on your Wi-Fi network. If your router supports changes to DNS settings, then you can connect it to your Content Policy to also connect the rest of your home's devices.

I strongly recommend taking a look at our help docs for more information about what features we currently support.

Can I block images with Managed Mode?

You can think of managed mode as a more advanced version of the settings app. No, it can't specifically block images, but you can set restrictions that can't be disabled from the device itself.

Why block images with a DNS Content Policy?

In many cases, this can prevent the vast majority of temptation on a given platform. This doesn't just mean pornography; it can also mean the temptation to keep scrolling.

How do I block images on a specific social media platform?

We have several guides that are tailor-made for each social media platform. I strongly encourage you to check out our blocking social media guide, which will point you to the right direction.

Note that it's not always possible to do this. Some platforms don't have a CDN (Content Delivery Network) that you can block without also blocking the platform itself.

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