For years, even the most innocent of Google searches might have pulled up a naughty picture or link. But thanks to a new tweak to Google's search algorithm that seems to have taken effect on Wednesday in the U.S., your Google inquiries are totally SFW - unless you don't want them to be.
In other words: Google just made it harder to find porn.
Google changed the computer program that spits back links and images when you type in a search phrase, Casey Newton at CNET reports. While sexually explicit material is not completely blocked from the Internet's most popular search portal, users will find it only if they make their searches very specific.
"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," a Google rep told CNET.
Previously, a web search for something as simple as, say, a common term for "breast" would have yielded some links to pornographic sites in the very top results. No longer.
Unsurprisingly, the Reddit community was among the first to notice the change. Redditors experimented with amending words to the above search to finally get pornographic results. Here's what happens with a search for "boob porn".
We'll tell you that the same thing happens with Google Image search. Whereas previously an image search for "boobs" gave pictures of women in various states of undress, now the results only show clothed women.
Other tech blogs, including The Verge and The Next Web, note that Google's Safe Search feature, which lets users decide if they want searches to include explicit material or not, has been altered, too.
Before the filter on searches could be set "strict," moderate" or be completely turned off. That last option could give users porn results for even the most unoffending searches. But with the change Wednesday, there is now a box labeled "Filter explicit results," which you can click to check or uncheck. Even when left unchecked, images results after typing in "boobs" show no nudity.
If you believe this is censorship on Google's part (the company denies that charge), there are always other search engines you can use. It's just as easy as ever to search for porn on Bing, where its SafeSearch feature can still be turned entirely off. Or you could always try Search.xxx, a recently launched search engine that returns only porn results.