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What does NSFW mean?

NSFW (also referred to as Not Safe For Work or Not Suitable For Work) is a popular shorthand tag and has become one of the most popular slangs on the Internet. It started as a shorthand tag in email subject headers to indicate and serve as a warning that the email contains materials deemed too sexual, profane, violent, or illegal to be viewed in a school, office, or formal environment.

The emergence of the tag has made it easier for people to send and open emails with possibly unethical and questionable content. With people checking their email at work, school, and other public locations where Internet is readily accessible and free, the NSFW tag has saved lots of innocent Internet users from embarrassment, ridicule, and possible harsh sanctions: suspension and dismissal.

Current Usage and Relevancy

Now, the usage of the tag has become common among webpages to warn visitors who might not be prepared to view disturbing and explicit content. Particularly, the NSFW tag is relevant to the following:

  1. People who are browsing the Web in school, work, and other private places that prohibit access to NSFW content
  2. People who are browsing in public places
  3. People who are sensitive to explicit and disturbing content
  4. People who are below legal age (i.e. minors)

Attempt for Trademark

Drew Curtis, the founder of Fark.com, applied to trademark NSFW on November 28, 2007. This resulted to multiple email complaints from various sources to be sent to Curtis. Aside from those, the move created a huge buzz in the blogosphere and multiple news sites.

Ultimately, the application for the trademark claim was identified as abandoned by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). If you want to know more about it, you can view the Notice of Abandonment document here.

And even if the trademark claim did pass, the enforcement would have been almost impossible since NSFW had already crept into everyday language. Nonetheless, it could have been profitable for Drew Curtis.

Branding a Page or Content as NSFW

Determining if a webpage or content is NSFW is a difficult task since the allowable content in a formal environment can vary from region to region. In addition, religion, culture, and laws can affect what is considered ethical and proper. Because of this, most NSFW brandings often are set to lower thresholds.

Common NSFW Websites

All porn websites are considered NSFW and they traditionally provide a warning to visitors when their domains are accessed for the first time or initiated a browsing session. However, it has become common for porn sites, especially popular ones, to drop and ignore this practice.

On the other hand, websites that may contain NSFW content such as sex-medical, news, and social media websites protect and warn their visitors and users by using client-side scripting. The script blocks the NSFW content and can be usually unblocked by clicking on the blocked content, logging in or registering, and/or verifying the visitors’ age.

However, not all websites establish NSFW safety features. Most domain owners expect visitors to know what they are going to see when they access their NSFW websites. Nevertheless, it can still put unfamiliar visitors at risk, especially if the link to the website was not tagged properly or if a link/URL shortener was used.

Automatic Filtering and Censorship

Most websites and search engines rely on algorithms and programs to deem if a website or content is NSFW. This is to satisfy the legal laws and censorship regulations of the country where the web owner, company, and its visitors reside. And yet, it is common that protecting users from unsafe content is not the main priority when such measure is implemented.

A good example of this scenario is the creation of Google’s SafeSearch. SafeSearch is a feature that removes/hides results that direct to explicit websites and materials. Primarily, it filters offensive and pornographic content. As of 2012, Google locked the SafeSearch feature to be always active for Australia, U.S., U.K., and other select countries.

According to Google, the SafeSearch lock is not meant to completely block searchers from accessing NSFW or explicit materials. Users can still access such results by clearly using the relevant keywords.

SFW or Safe for Work

Naturally, due to the convenience of the NSFW tag, the tag SFW or Safe for Work was born. Usage of SFW is often applicable to websites or content that might appear not safe for work, but are actually safe.

NSFW in Pop Culture

Aside from assimilating in the web vernacular, the tag NSFW has become a regular term in day-to-day conversations. More often than not, NSFW is used to insinuate sexual content. Other meanings that have spawned for the acronym NSFW are Not Safe for Wife and Now Show Friends and Workmates.

Another instance of NSFW in pop culture is a 2014 American film titled “Not Safe for Work.” The psychological thriller is about a paralegal who witnesses a murder in connection to the multiple suicide and homicide cases against a pharmaceutical company.

AHCAFR Rating

Our website, AHCAFR, is generally Safe For Work. We do use slangs and terms that are related to the PE industry, but our images are all safe. Some of our review pages may include NSFW wording in the customer reviews, but we have done our best to limit this exposure.

Updated: July 7, 2017 — 4:56 pm
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