20110502

Problem ID: 8045317145453093029
Entered by: Ben Simo
Is there a problem here?  

Offensive Captchas

Warning: This post contains profanity -- captured from CBS.com. If you are sensitive to such things, please select another problem.























Many web sites use captchas in an effort to verify that users are human, and not automated scripts. CBS currently has an online poll asking viewers which prime time show's season finale they'd like to be made available for online viewing. This CBS poll uses a captcha system.

The CBS captcha appears to be a set of 5 or 6 randomly-generated characters. Much of the time, this generates text that doesn't make a real word. Some times these characters for English words -- sometimes these words aren't quite appropriate for prime time television.

For example, @ababiarz encountered the following and shared it on Twitter:



Surprised there was no check for profane or otherwise potentially offensive text, I decided to take a look at the CBS captcha feature.

After a few clicks "to get a new one", I got the following:



While this seems fitting for some of CBS' programming, I didn't expect it to be a captcha word. As I continues to click, a surprisingly large number of the captchas were sex-related terms.

Within minutes, the following captcha was generated:



Hmm... If it weren't for the 's' at the end, users might think this is a reference to the river in Africa. However, it comes across as an offensive misspelling.

I continue loading captchas and encounter many other words and terms that site users are likely to deem offensive or inappropriate. (I was too quick refreshing the captchas to get snapshots of the worst of them.)

Is there a problem here? Should a captcha text generator filter out potentially offensive terms?

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