John Fenoughty

Application and URL filtering - Social Media Category

Discussion created by John Fenoughty on Nov 9, 2018
Latest reply on Nov 9, 2018 by John Fenoughty

I have a number of sites/organisations where the blocking of the Social Media category (occasionally with some exceptions) is a requirement.


The problem is, when we do so this will block all of the analytics, ad-serving and optimisation services provided by the likes of Facebook, twitter as 'Social Media'. This happens so much that we have had to drop and NOT LOG that category to stop the logs filling up and the UserCheck agent reporting Facebook or Twitter (or other similar) activity to the user when they just go to (for example) CNN International - Breaking News, US News, World News and Video 


The example of CNN includes no fewer than 59 connections to content delivery and analytics sites...on its front page!

Iclusing but not limited to: for example is currently uncategorised, but extremely widely used. is categorised as Computers and Internet (which is fine) which, while it's primary category is business/economy it is also classed as Social Networking.

Another one of CNN's front page is


This is just CNN's front page. When I did a capture on a site recently I capture 85,000 hits of this type in just three days and they only have a couple of hundred users. The users know they can't get to Social Media so rarely try and no mobile with the Social Media apps (no mobiles at all in fact) are allowed on that network; we can conclude that leaving aside clicked links and genuine attempts to use social media, a large percentage of these are false positives caused by analytics and content delivery hosted by from the Social Media organisations.


Dropping and not logging this has reduced the problem, but recently this caused a problem for Webex - Cisco Webex Teams being categorised as Social Media and of course the people on site never saw anything blocked.


Effectively it is clear that there's only one real solution and that is for Check Point to split the category (and tags) to be Social Media only for the actual Social Media platforms themselves and all the analytics etc. need to be in a different category. Internet and Computers would do, but I personally think a special category for 'analytics and tracking' might be useful. If this is done in future then the analytics can be tagged as Social Media to prove their credentials as long as they are not in that category either as a primary or secondary (etc.) category.


Has anyone else experience this, and what have been your solutions to this requirement?


Please don't make this discussion about whether we should be blocking social media at all, there are plenty of places for the discussions about censorship and/or human rights - this isn't that place. I really would like to keep this just about the technicalities of the Internet and this particular Check Point blade.