The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. EFF’s mission is to ensure that technology supports freedom, justice, and innovation for all people of the world.
EFF’s mission is to ensure that technology supports freedom, justice, and innovation for all people of the world.
Even in the fledgling days of the Internet, EFF understood that protecting access to technology was central to advancing freedom for all. In the years that followed, EFF used our fiercely independent voice to clear the way for open source software, encryption, security research, file sharing tools, and a world of emerging technologies.
Today, EFF uses the unique expertise of leading technologists, activists, and attorneys in our efforts to defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, advocate for users and innovators, and support freedom-enhancing technologies.
Together, we forged a vast network of concerned members and partner organizations spanning the globe. EFF advises policymakers and educates the press and the public through comprehensive analysis, educational guides, activist workshops, and more. EFF empowers hundreds of thousands of individuals through our Action Center and has become a leading voice in online rights debates.
EFF is a donor-funded U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with over 30,000 members that depends on your support to continue fighting for users. Donate and become an EFF member.
About Red Flag Machine
We have built the Red Flag Machine quiz to illustrate the shocking absurdity of GoGuardian’s flagging algorithm. GoGuardian is a student monitoring tool that watches over twenty-seven million students across ten thousand schools. Derived from real GoGuardian data, the quiz presents real websites that were flagged, and the keywords that they were flagged for containing. Visitors are asked to guess what keywords triggered the alert. After each question, they will see what keywords were actually found and flagged on the site, and why we think they were flagged.
The data for the quiz, and our report, comes from dozens of public records requests we filed. Using data from multiple schools in both red and blue states, what we uncovered was that, by design, GoGuardian is a red flag machine—its false positives heavily outweigh its ability to accurately determine whether the content of a site is harmful. This results in tens of thousands of students being flagged for viewing content that is not only benign, but often, educational or informative.
We identified multiple categories of non-explicit content that are regularly marked as harmful or dangerous, including: College application sites and college websites; counseling and therapy sites; sites with information about drug abuse; sites with information about LGBTQ issues; sexual health sites; sites with information about gun violence; sites about historical topics; sites about political parties and figures; medical and health sites; news sites; and general educational sites. Read more of our findings in our report.