Google altered the way its search engine filters explicit results Tuesday, leaving many internet users confused and outraged that the site was censoring more explicit images - porn, to be precise.

Previously, Google searchers could select three levels of "SafeSearch": strict, moderate or none. Search results could be drastically different at each one.

Overnight, those three options were consolidated into one that allows users to simply "filter explicit results," with off set as the default (users can turn it on or off).

What followed was a deluge of users who found that searches that would have previously returned explicit results were seemingly being censored even, as some reported, with the SafeSearch filter turned off.

Despite all our rage

The news of changes to Google SafeSearch really took off when a post beginning with the word "censorship" hit the front page of Reddit.

In the comments, Redditors drew comparisons with China's "Great Firewall" and promised to switch to Microsoft's Bing search engine in droves.

"You can take away our privacy, but if you mess with porn, the internet is going to be MAD," wrote reddit user okeman.

"Guess this is the end of me using Google," wrote SyntaxEmulator.

But Google spokespeople quickly jumped online to explain what had really happened, and their clarifications should come as a relief for concerned citizens worried about censorship, not to mention those who just want to find some good ol' smut.

Google explains it all

In a statement sent to CNET, a Google representative explained, "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.

"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."

For example, under the new SafeSearch rules searching the name of a porn star should return only non-explicit results. Make that query more...action packed...and explicit results can appear.

The change only appears to be affecting Google in the U.S., as searches on Google.co.uk don't seem to be affected by the search setting change.

Google employees and representatives took to forums and message boards on Tuesday and Wednesday to explain the changes directly to users.

In a Google forum post from late Tuesday, Google employee ayc wrote, "If you do find that there's a query that Google isn't doing a good job of serving relevant results for, let me know, and we'll look into it."