dan.tobias.name | The 'Net | Cybersitter

If CyberSitter were marketed honestly...

[Don't Buy CyberSitter Without Knowing The Truth About What It Does For You.]
Graphic by Curtis Campbell, borrowed from Peacefire Site

This page is presented for satiric purposes as an "ad" for CYBERsitter, but is not created by, endorsed, or affiliated with Solid Oak Software.

The Internet offers vast resources of information and activities, but chances are that the media has whipped you up into a hysteria about all the evil stuff in the net, like pornography, suicidal cults, extremism, sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, anarchy, atheism, secular humanism, and anything else that may hit one of your "hot buttons", whatever they may happen to be.

Well, worry no more with CYBERsitter, from Solid Oak Software; we're pandering to this media hysteria by offering software to limit your children's access to objectionable material on the Internet. This objectionability is not determined by your moral standards; it's determined by the management of Solid Oak Software, in accordance with our moral standards, and we keep our ban list top secret to prevent any sort of scrutiny!

Parents can choose to block, block and alert, or simply alert them when access is attempted to areas that we would prefer you not go to.

Password protected, CYBERsitter is easy to deactivate or reconfigure by the parent, and virtually impossible for the child to detect or defeat, unless the child is, like most children, more skilled at computer stuff than his or her parents.

[PC Magazine Editor's Choice]CYBERsitter was picked as "Editor's Choice" in the filtering software category by PC Magazine, April 1997. To thank them for this distinction, we have not yet placed their web site on our ban list!
  • CYBERsitter's Bad Sites List includes any site that focuses on topics such as adult or sexual issues, illegal activities, bigotry, racism, drugs, pornography, feminism, philosophy, politics, free thought, criticism of Cybersitter or Solid Oak Software, sites created by webmasters we don't like, etc.

  • Bad Sites List has 1000's of WWW sites that are not suitable for the closed-minded. The list is maintained secretly in an encrypted fashion, since you can't be trusted to judge the suitability of these sites for yourself. Let us make the moral judgments for you!

  • Bad Sites List also includes hundreds of Usenet News Groups. Actually, all the thousands of Usenet News Groups are full of crap, but we just picked the few that bug us the most.

  • Bad Sites List also includes all the common adult oriented chat (IRC) lines, but that's pretty useless because those things come and go on a second-by-second basis.

  • CYBERsitter's advanced Phrase Filtering Function filters out phrases and words by context to eliminate the possibility that words with double meanings will be inadvertently blocked, or at least we make this claim for marketing purposes; actually, it does comical things like filtering out the "cock" in "Poppycock" and changing "Jesse Helms is an anti-homosexual conservative" to "Jesse Helms is an anti-conservative".

  • CYBERsitter has a built in, one mouse click function for updating its filter file. It takes just a few seconds, and it's always FREE! Isn't it easy to let us make the moral choices in your life instead of subjecting yourself to the difficulty of deciding things for yourself? The filter file is updated daily, and because the Internet changes on a daily basis, we give you the capability to always be up to date with the sites we've decided are unsuitable for you. Who knows... maybe in the next update we'll add your ISP's domain name to the block list (because we found something objectionable on their site like an anti-CYBERsitter essay) and you'll suddenly be unable even to retrieve your own e-mail!

  • CYBERsitter can be installed on a single PC or on any local or wide area network. So you don't have to stick to just censoring your own access... if you run an office, school, or public library network, you can force everyone on the network to abide by our moral standards!

  • CYBERsitter can even curtail what people can access on the net even if they do not use CYBERsitter! It's easy! All we have to do is threaten to put an entire domain on our ban list (e.g., the domain of an ISP that hosts a site we find objectionable), and, if the owner of the site is a sufficiently spineless corporation, they'll censor it themselves to preserve access to the rest of their sites! With every copy of CYBERsitter we sell, we increase the clout we can wield to compel the rest of the net to follow our standards!

One of the sites we ban | Another site we ban | Yet another

Some More Reasons To Oppose CYBERsitter

Solid Oak Software, the makers of CYBERsitter, has engaged in the following questionable tactics:
  1. Threatened a computer magazine columnist with prosecution by the FBI for writing a critical article about CYBERsitter
  2. Threatened to sue a teenaged critic of the program, and added his site to CYBERsitter's ban list
  3. Put up a fake 'Employee Of The Month' page in their web site congratulating 'Bennie Weaselton' (depicted as a chimpanzee) for helping CYBERsitter sales. (Bennett Hazelton is the name of the critic they targeted in item #2 above.) NOTE: They've since taken the page down; I used to have a link to a critic's mirror copy of it, but that's now down too.
  4. Blocked the entire pathfinder.com domain, run by Time Warner, to "retaliate" against their operating a search engine letting people check whether particular sites are banned by CYBERsitter and other "censorware" programs; the makers of CYBERsitter would rather this be kept secret. (They have unblocked this site since, but I don't think the censorware search engine is online any more.)
  5. To preserve this secrecy, they include in their license agreement you get when you install the program a provision banning users from making any attempt to find out what sites are banned, whether by reverse-engineering the encrypted list, or even by trial-and-error web surfing. Apparently, they can actually sue you for taking notes of what sites are banned and writing an article about it!
  6. People at Solid Oak Software regularly write nasty and abusive e-mail messages in response to the mildest, most polite, criticism. Some examples:
  7. They've even installed an e-mail filter that bounces any messages to them with such keywords as 'Peacefire' (the name of one of the critics' organizations).
  8. To further attempt to conceal opposing viewpoints from their users, CYBERsitter not only bans various critics' sites, its "phrase-ban" feature also filters out the names of various anti-CYBERsitter graphics used by critics, and the phrase "Don't Buy CYBERsitter"! They'd like the users to remain ignorant of the problems with the program.
  9. Now, CYBERsitter even scans users' hard disks, when they're installing it, to see if they've ever been at arch-enemy Peacefire's web site! If it's anywhere in your cache, you'll be blocked from installing CYBERsitter.
  10. They e-mail-bombed a critic, an activity that is a criminal offense under federal law against abuse of computer systems.

Some Ironic News...

Solid Oak has licensed their filtering technology to other companies, who have in turn created specialized versions for various groups wishing to filter different things. Apparently, one such group that has ended up releasing a specialized CyberSITTER is the Church of Scientology, whose filtering program filters lots of sites that dare to criticize Scientology in any way. Ironically, the Church of Scientology is among the sites banned by the "regular" CyberSITTER on the grounds of being "cult-related". The can of worms has now been opened; any group wishing to ensure the preservation of its members' blissful ignorance of any ideas that differ from theirs can now get a specialized CyberSITTER to suit their prejudices, until the whole world is split into lots of groups leading sheltered lives blocked from contact with one another. Already, a competing filtering program, CyberPatrol, has blocked the web site of the American Family Association, a strong advocate of such filtering (except where their own site is concerned!), on the grounds that AFA is "too intolerant." One camp's advocate of good values is another camp's evil corrupter, so eventually just about every site will be on somebody's ban list!

More Sites About CYBERsitter

© Copywrong 1997. All moral rights reserved.
CYBERsitter is a trademark of Solid Oak Software
All other trademarks belong to their respective companies.

This page is a creation of Dan Tobias, and represents nobody's opinion but my own.
Actually, I hope lots of others share my opinion; this page just doesn't represent it!

First Created 16 Apr 1997; Last Updated 14 Apr 2002

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