Profanity Filter: Build vs. Buy

Kelly Strain

Buildvsbuy Profanity Filter

The “build vs buy” decision is paramount when discussing a company’s software needs. Building custom software solutions can provide a host of benefits, but it often comes at a cost. An intelligent profanity filtering and moderation platform is a significant investment; building a comprehensive profanity filter could involve years of development time accruing significant costs. Consider the following factors when deciding whether to purchase an existing profanity filtering technology or build it internally:


When building a proprietary software you retain control of all aspects of product design, allowing you to create a customized solution to best fit your company needs.

  • Control enhancements and development schedule
  • Avoid the costs associated with software license fees – and in some cases maintenance and support fees
  • Fully customize to fit your project scope and needs

It is important to remember that by building your own profanity filter you assume the risk if it fails.

The talented team at AOL implemented an internal profanity filter and was embarrassed by the now infamous Scunthorpe Problem. Years later, the Google filter and Facebook were stumped by the same issue. Learn more here. These filter issues produced scores of false-positives which required significant man-hours in moderation support to address.


When you purchase such a solution you get the benefit of a professionally developed and vetted technology with years of market use and added intelligence.

  • Offloading filtering and moderation allows you to focus resources on core product features – essential to the long-term health of your business
  • The software has been used and trusted by well-known brands with strict quality requirements
  • Consistent product upgrades and new features
  • Complete product support and software maintenance. When bugs or errors are discovered, you can rely on the vendor to troubleshoot and fix them rather than exhaust internal resources
  • Quick deployment time
  • You have a technology partner who is focused on helping you succeed and providing a better user experience


Building a filter requires extensive knowledge of natural language processing and language rules. A filter that fails to understand complex language produces misses and false positives can be damaging to a brand. Get peace of mind with a proven solution.

It is easy to overlook the cost and time involved in developing a new technology as complex as a profanity filter. A homegrown solution requires costly development time and ongoing maintenance, moderation and support. In contrast, a purchased solution can be integrated and running in just days; it provides continual upgrades based on market insights and advancements.

Profanity Filter Solutions

There are a range of profanity filtering solutions available on the market. Here are some of the reasons teams choose CleanSpeak.

Minimized False Positives. We have been working on our filtering technology for 9 years and continue to improve on it each year. We solve the Scunthorpe problem, handle all leet speak and automatically build inflections. In addition, we parse and filter BBCode markup language.

Superior Speed. Response times for our profanity filter average under 5 milliseconds allowing significant throughput to support requests at peak volume without hindering user experience.

Cloud or On-Premise.  CleanSpeak has flexible hosting options to best suit your InfoSec needs.

Free. Test out CleanSpeak with a free 14-day trial. No credit card required.

We have a dedicated team of developers whose number one goal is to maintain the most accurate and efficient profanity filter on the market. Using CleanSpeak lets you devote more time to building your application, rather than your own filter.

More information about CleanSpeak can be found on the Inversoft website.  Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions  you might have.

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Profanity Filtering – Not Just for Games Anymore

Mike Moloughney

Profanity Filtering Word Design

When people hear the phrase “profanity filtering” their minds typically go directly to the gaming industry.  Certainly gaming has a very strong need for filtering as communication between players in chat and forums is a key component of how companies can build and grow an online community.  Many of our early clients came from the gaming industry.

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Thank God for Filtering Technology

Mike King

Children are vulnerable when participating in online properties.  Fortunately, companies like Disney take extraordinary steps to protect children online from unwanted user generated content such as profanity or bullying language.  The use of filtering technology blocks this unwanted content from offending or marginalizing their visitors.

Thank God for Filtering Technology

There are some critical challenges that must be addressed, especially when managing online communities for children.  The community managers must select technology that is both highly sophisticated and flexible.  They must combine the technology with intelligent, clearly defined rules along with human moderation to discern the context of content shared in their communities.  The ultimate objective is to protect children while providing an entertaining and wholesome branded online community where they can interact with other children.

Disney in recent news

There was recent news of a child named Lilly who tried to express gratitude for the things she values most on the Disney Channel website (a branded online community).  The things Lilly was most thankful for: “God, my family, my church and my friends.”  It turned out Disney was using its filter to prevent the word God from being used in its community, which resulted in Lilly’s post being blocked. Most people think a company is filtering to keep out profanities and other similarly offensive content, but protecting children online is a far more complex endeavor.

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Profanity Filtering Techniques: Phonetic Replacements

Brian Pontarelli

The third in a series of posts about the finer points of profanity filtering…

Inversoft Phonetics

Phonetic replacement is the process of replacing characters with other alphabetic characters (or removing unnecessary characters) while still retaining the phonetic structure of the word. This tactic is often used to attack filters that do not understand phonetics:

  1. Teech me guitar
  2. Attak the main castle gate

Example #1 is a simple character swap of an “a” to an “e” that still retains the same phonetic structure of the word and allows the reader to infer the original word.

Example #2, on the other hand, is an example of character collapsing. In this example the “ck” in the word “Attack” has been collapsed to a single “k” character.

In some cases characters can’t be collapsed without changing the meaning of the word. For example, the word “been” can’t be collapsed to “ben”. Therefore, a filter can’t simply ignore multiple characters that are phonetically the same. It has to understand if the word can be collapsed.

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Ask the CEO: How Fast is Inversoft's CleanSpeak Chat Filter?

Brian Pontarelli

Chat Filter

Chat Filter Speed

Chat filters come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it's hosted in the cloud or deployed on-premise right next to the application, every online community, chat room, virtual world or forum will look for a chat filtering and or moderation tool set.

Accommodating online user generated content is no longer a choice, it's necessary for any product or brand to stand out from the masses. By creating a space for users, consumers and advocates to share with one another it creates one of the most powerful of marketing strategies: social interaction.

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