Google has updated the terms and service agreement for its Blogger platform to prohibit blogs containing "sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video".
The new policy means that any content which has been labelled "adult" will no longer be discoverable through search and the only way to access this content will be through an invitation sent by the author.
The new measures are set to come into force on 23 March, 2015, meaning authors of affected blogs will have a month to decide if they want to stick with Blogger or move elsewhere.
In the coming weeks, we'll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video. We'll still allow nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts.
Google says that while no content will be deleted only "blog authors and those with whom they have expressly shared the blog" will be able to access adult content.
New blogs created after 23 March which breach the revised policy on adult content "may be removed" Google says.
Why is this happening?
Google has not given any reasoning behind what some says amounts to censorship and a violation of users right to freedom of speech. IBTimes UK has contacted Google for a comment but at the time of publication has not received a response.
Prior to the changes, Google's policy allowed sexually explicit images or video saying that "censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression". What has happened to change Google's opinion on this content is unclear.
Blogs containing adult content on Blogger are already restricted with visitors having to agree to a Content Warning which pops up every time you visit the site:
This warning is apparently no longer sufficient for Google's needs.
Blogger was launched in 1999 by Pyra Labs as a free blogging platform before it was purchased by Google in 2003 and has "millions of users" although no concrete figures are available. It is unclear how many of its blogs are labelled as "adult" though it is likely to number in the tens of thousands.
Google just doesn't like adult content
According to journalist and sex columnist Violet Blue, who has maintained a personal blog on Blogger since 2001, the number of blogs current marked as "adult" is extensive and covers such areas as "LGBT and 'outsider sexuality' diaries, erotic writers, transgender activists, romance book editors and reviewers, sex toy reviewers, art nude photographers, film-makers, artists such as painters and comic illustrators, text-only fiction writers, sex news and porn gossip writers, LGBT sex activism, sex education and information outlets, fetish fashion, feminist porn blogs, and much, much more."
Blue believes that Google's change in its policy is simply down to the fact it doesn't like this content:
"Adult content has historically been at the forefront of fighting for free speech and political dissent, and this won't be changing anytime soon. And when this crucial element of free speech and expression is minimised or disappeared (and in some cases, removed or prohibited altogether) because the utility controlling the content – in this case, Google – simply doesn't like the topic, we find ourselves mired in a new, deeply insidious flavour of censorship."
The Yahoo-owned blogging platform Tumblr attempted to do something similar in July 2013 but outcry from its users made the company rethink its plans to delist all adult blogs and just increase restrictions on sexually explicit content.