How to block bad words with the Facebook profanity filter?

Are you already using the Facebook profanity filter to protect your comments section?

If you manage a Facebook page I’m sure you’ve received your fair share of spam and profane language. It’s even worse when you promote anything using Facebook ads.

While Facebook does offer the option to moderate comments (hide, report as spam or delete), this recurring task can quickly turn into a full-time job. Luckily Facebook also offers a ways to pro-actively block certain words from appearing on your posts or ads.

In this article we’ll discuss the Facebook profanity filter, show how you can enable it and we’ll share our test results with you to demonstrate its strengths and weaknesses.

Next to that we’ll also discuss the page moderation word list Facebook offers to block comments that contain certain keywords. We’ll include a free downloadable .CSV with a list of 1,216 bad words that you can add to your keyword blacklist.

Block bad words with the Facebook profanity filter

Facebook offers a profanity filter to moderate comments on your posts and ads.

When activating this profanity filter, Facebook says it will hide comments that contain profanity. To determine which comments to hide they use the most commonly reported words and phrases that are marked offensive by the community.

After Facebook hides a comment, the author and his or her friends can still see it. But it will no longer be visible to others visiting your page or seeing your ad.

And that’s about all the information that is shared by Facebook about the profanity filter, which leaves most people wondering how it works – and which profanity it will detect.

How to turn the Facebook profanity filter on and off?

Inside your Facebook Page settings, you’ll find a checkbox to enable the Profanity filter.

facebook turn on profanity filter

When you have your Facebook language set to English-US, the small explanation of how the profanity filter works will say that it supports (US-English only). When you have your Facebook language set to any other language however, it will not show this disclaimer while the filter itself can still be enabled.

Facebook says that by enabling this filter they will hide posts and comments with profanity and use the most commonly reported offensive words and phrases to do that.

Facebook profanity filter medium vs strong?

You might be wondering how to set the Facebook profanity filter to “medium” vs “strong”, because that setting used to be available after enabling the filter. Facebook has however removed this setting, so you no longer have to choose the Facebook profanity filter setting – it’s just ON or OFF now.

Facebook profanity filter test

We decided to run a quick test to see which types of comments the Facebook profanity filter would hide, and which ones would slip through the cracks.

First let’s discuss our test setup.

  • We posted example comments on our own CommentGuard Facebook page.
  • We used “Gerco Wielewaal”, one of our Facebook test profiles.
  • The test profile doesn't have a role on our CommentGuard Facebook page.

With this test profile we posted 10 common English swear words (2 of which were written in typical “internet slang” to test if the filter would detect that).

english swear words

Next to that we posted 6 Spanish swear words.

spanish swear words

After posting these comments, we visited our CommentGuard Facebook page while being logged-out in an incognito tab. This way we could check which of the comments were publicly visible and which were hidden.

Out of the 10 English comments, 6 were hidden by the Facebook profanity filter and 4 were still visible. The 2 comments in “internet slang” slipped through as well as 2 common English swear words.

english comments not hidden

All the 6 Spanish comments were still visible, not a single comment was hidden by the Facebook profanity filter. As a follow-up we’ve also tested changing our Facebook profile language to Spanish, but that also didn’t make any difference.

It seems the Facebook profanity filter indeed only works for English comments.

spanish comments not hidden

CommentGuard's profanity filter

While building CommentGuard, our comment moderation software for Facebook & Instagram, we wanted to implement a better profanity filter than Facebook's built-in filter.

After researching and testing the available solutions, we've implemented a machine learning profanity filter that supports 15 different languages and was trained on over 100 billion content submissions to detect profane language.

profanity filter

It will automatically hide all Facebook & Instagram comments that include profanity.

With a 10/10 and 6/6 score for the same test 🦾

And that’s just one of our filters to pro-actively hide unwanted comments for you. It can also auto-hide comments that contain: toxic language (bad statements, without bad words), images, GIFs, emojis, URL's or blacklisted keywords. 

OK, let’s move on to the Facebook page moderation word list. 

How does Facebook’s Content Moderation work?

If you’re an Admin of a Facebook page or Facebook business page, you can enable Content Moderation inside your page settings. There you can enter a list of up to 1,000 blocked words, phrases or emojis. Like a keyword blacklist basically.

Going forward, Facebook will hide any new comments that contain these keywords.

Hidden Facebook comments remain visible to the people who wrote them and their friends. But for everyone else, they’re no longer visible.

Hiding instead of deleting Facebook comments prevents further outrage and the feeling of censorship but also limits the public visibility of harmful comments.

This Content Moderation feature is available for both classic pages and Facebook pages that have been migrated to the New Pages experience.

Admins might consider blocking certain keywords on their Facebook page, like:

  • Specific Emojis that represent negative emotions 🤬
  • Swear words $^#**&!!
  • Brand names of competitors.
  • Negative words, like: refund, delay, return policy, etc.

How to block words with the Facebook page moderation word list?

In your Facebook page settings, you’ll find Content Moderation.

Here you can add a list of words, phrases or emojis. Facebook will then automatically hide comments with anything that’s on your moderation list.

facebook page moderation words

Now you can add the specific words, phrases or emojis that you would like to block on your Facebook page.

Note that Facebook automatically hides variations of these keywords including: common misspellings, plurals, abbreviations and words that use numbers or symbols.

You can choose to enter your blacklisted keywords manually or upload a .CSV file.

facebook comment blacklist delete words

By clicking the X or Delete all button you can remove words from your list again if needed.

There is supposed to be a limit to how many words or characters you can add to your Facebook page moderation word list, but we haven't been able to find the exact number.

It's not 1,000 words (it's more).

It's also not 10,000 characters (it's less).

Facebook's error message when trying to input too much on this list is: Error: The limit of 10000 tags has been reached. If anyone knows what "tags" are, please let us know.

Facebook page moderation bad words list

We’ve compiled a list of 1,216 English bad words that you can download as a .CSV.

This document can be opened in Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel or any other editing tool for .CSV files. You can then select and copy the bad words into your Facebook page moderation list to automatically have Facebook hide comments with these words.

Note that you can’t just upload this entire .CSV to Facebook using their “Upload from .CSV” button, because the number of characters exceeds the maximum amount.

You’ll have to make a selection first and then add them to your list.

Facebook page moderation test

Note that Facebook says that variations of keywords that use numbers, symbols or different spellings are automatically hidden. So you don’t have to add multiple slight variations of the same keyword to your list.

We decided to run a small test to see if Facebook indeed does this.

First we added 3 bad words to our Facebook page moderation blacklist. Then we disabled the Profanity filter to make sure it wouldn’t interfere with our test.

facebook content moderation list of bad words

And then we left 3 comments on our own Facebook page, using one of Facebook test profiles. This profile is not connected to the Facebook page (it doesn’t have a page role and doesn’t like or follow the page).

facebook comments with profanity

Then we visited our Facebook page while being logged out to see which of these comments are publicly visible. If comments are hidden by the Facebook page moderation list, they should still be visible to the person who wrote it (while logged in) but they should no longer be visible to everyone else.

Only 1 of the comments was still visible, the other ones were hidden.

facebook comments hidden because of content moderation word list

So it seems Facebook does also hide (most of) the variations of keywords on your list.

As we’ve demonstrated in our test of the Facebook profanity filter it didn’t catch any “internet slang”, so using the Facebook moderation word list for that is recommended.

What if you can't block keywords on a Facebook page?

If you're trying to follow the instructions to block certain keywords on your Facebook page but can't open or edit Facebook's Content Moderation setting, this is often caused by a permission issue. Meaning you don't have the required Page Role to make these changes. You need to have the Admin role on the page you're setting this up for.

Can you also block keywords on a Facebook profile?

While this article is mostly about blocking certain keywords from appearing on your Facebook Page (and the posts and ads associated to that page), you can setup the same Content Moderation for your Facebook profile.

You'll find this setting in the Profile and Tagging section of your account settings, as Hide comments containing certain words from your profile.