GOOGLE has tightened its search controls to make it more difficult to find pornographic images.
The search giant has altered the algorithm for image search to bring it in line with its web and video searches, which filter out pornographic sites unless the user is clearly searching for them.
A Google representative said: "We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly what they are looking for - but we aim not to show sexually explicit results unless a user is specifically searching for them.
"We use algorithms to select the most relevant results for a given query. If you're looking for adult content, you can find it without having to change the default setting - you just may need to be more explicit in your query if your search terms are potentially ambiguous. The image search settings now work the same way as in Web search."
The change applies to the 'SafeSearch' setting, which is designed to stop images of violence or sex displaying in search results. The number of options has been reduced from two to one, with 'filter explicit results' either on or off.
As of today the changes only applied to those searching Google in the US.
Outraged users took to social networks to claim the change to Google amounted to censorship, with the topic pushed onto the front page of Reddit after being "upvoted" by users. Discussions of how to get around the restrictions ran to hundreds of comments.
"You can take away our privacy, but if you mess with porn, the internet is going to be MAD," wrote user okeman.
"What is this? communism?! BRING BACK THE PORN!" added user Fake_Cakeday.
Several countries in Europe favour forcing internet users to make a choice between different levels of parental control when they buy a new computer or smartphone or sign up for broadband.
The British Government has said it does not favour a blanket block on adult material, arguing that it could lull parents into a “false sense of security."