Searching for porn using Google Images? It might be about to get harder...

US users of Google Images have reacted angrily to changes to the way the search engine produces image results

Using Google to search for pornographic images?

Of course you're not. But if you were, in the US, the task is about to get a little more difficult after Google altered the algorithm for their image search database.

US users of Google Images have reacted angrily to changes to the way the search engine produces results.

The change was revealed after a Reddit user yesterday noted: "as of the past two hours, Google images safesearch is MANDATORY for US IP's."

The Reddit account linked to a screen shot showing the search results for a sexually explicit term which yielded only tame non-explicit results.

Previously, Google Images in the US had three options in its safe search settings, and this remains the case with the .co.uk version.

Users in the UK can still opt for SafeSearch Off, Moderate (recommended), or Strict in the settings, whereas on google.com or google.us, there is only one option: Filter explicit results.

One angry Reddit user, Fake_Cakeday, posted: "What is this? communism?! õ_Õ' BRING BACK THE PORN!"

As of this morning the changes only applied to those searching Google in the US, although it's not yet clear whether the changes will be rolled out to the .co.uk regional address.

The changes to Google images bring it in line with its web and video searches, which filter out pornographic sites unless the user is clearly searching for them. Google has around 189 regional domains for its search engine. 

Speaking to the tech website CNET Google responded to criticism of the changes by pointing out that should you wish to find porn it shouldn't be a problem - you might just have to get a little more descriptive: "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", a spokesperson said.

"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."

Although the changes will leave UK users mainly unaffected, Google has a tendency to trial changes regionally before rolling them out elsewhere.

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