Tuesday, August 01, 2006

No YouTube On Panera Bread’s Menu

I’ve just stumbled upon the strange fact that Panera Bread’s content filter will not let you see anything from YouTube, the homemade-video site, among other things. My laptop and I were having lunch there yesterday – I ordered their turkey artichoke sandwich, while Mac fed on the nutritious free WiFi -- and we noticed that what was supposed to be an embedded YouTube video on another site showed up as a blank space.

Well, shoot happens, and sometimes shoots don’t happen; the Internet is very much a work in progress, and video is still in the pre-standard phase. But with the URL available, curiousity drove us to slap it into the command line, and this rather creepy warning appeared:

“The SonicWALL Content Filter Has Blocked this site.
“Reason for restriction: Forbidden Category"
Sure enough, today we checked back from another i-café (this free wireless thing having freed us from our electronic cave at home), and bada-boom: there was the verboten yet entirely non-controversial video.

Panera is obviously keen on protecting their diners from any unappetizing content -- more likely, protecting themselves from lawsuits from parents whose teens might be tempted to go to there for a bagel and Suzy Creamcheese.

But all of YouTube?

SonicWall can be quite Church-Lady about the content they allow through. Some friends have a completely innocent site about "sound healing," which nonetheless was blocked in the Forbidden Category of "Cult/Occult," a classification which of course does not play in Peoria. To be fair, which I’m frankly not inspired to be in this case, they invite you to submit a rating review “if you feel this site has been blocked in error.” Just don't go to Panera expecting to find anything spicy.

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