Google next month will restrict the public sharing of adult content on its Blogger platform.
After March 23, blogs that publicly share images and videos that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity will be converted into private blogs for which access will be by invitation only.
Though no content will be deleted from these blogs, private content can only be seen by the owner or administrator of the blog and people who the owner has shared the blog with, according to a post on a Google support page.
"We'll still allow nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts," according to the post.
For any blogs set up after March 23, Google may remove the blog or take other action if it includes adult content that breaches its rules.
A number of users said Monday on forums that they had received emails from Google advising them of the change in policy.
Blogger's content policy has been updated to fall in line with those across Google's hosted products such as Google+ and YouTube, a Google spokeswoman wrote in an email. YouTube's policy disallows sexually explicit content like pornography, other than for educational, documentary, scientific or artistic purposes, while Google+ warns against distributing content "that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material."
Its current rules allow adult content on Blogger, "including images or videos that contain nudity or sexual activity," but requires that the blogs be marked as 'adult' in Blogger settings. Blogs marked as adult are placed behind an 'adult content' warning when users access them.
The company, however, has a "zero-tolerance" policy on Blogger with regard to content that exploits children such as child sexual abuse imagery and content connected with pedophilia.
The move by Google has come in for criticism from many bloggers. "Set to private and by 'invitation only', our websites will be all but destroyed," wrote Derren Grathy, who described herself as a writer and webmaster of an adult content blog. "The fact that you haven't deleted our content is of grim consolation when you kill off our entire userbase!" Grathy added that she cannot invite individually hundreds of thousands of users.