Kremlin's Internet watchdog bans PornHub and YouPorn in Russia
Main page News, Russia

Two biggest porn websites get banned banned in Russia, as the government tells citizens to go "meet someone in real life", setting off a war of mocking on Twitter.

The ban was announced on Tuesday by Roskomnadzor that is the governmental mass media and Internet watchdog agency in charge of monitoring and blocking potentially "dangerous" websites. This week, PornHub is the one.

The decision to ban the two largest adult websites PornHub and YouPorn was made by two different Russian provincial courts of Voronezh and Vladivostok. They claimed that these websites, surprisingly, were spreading pornography. As a side note, Russia's laws prohibit only the production of pornography but not its consumption. However, this is when the things got even more interesting.

Meduza, a popular Russian online media, tried to get in contact with the judge who signed the documents on banning PornHub. Roskomnadzor did not give much details on why exactly the website got banned except for the general "it's porn" argument.

The first time Meduza contacted Vladimir Panasenko, the judge from Voronezh, he said that he can't remember what this judicial ruling was about because it was so long ago (in May). He told the journalists to contact his assistant who can look at the file again and give them details about it. After Meduza's journalists declined to receive comments from the third person, Panasenko said the following:

"I made the decision [to ban PornHub] based on the evidence that was included in the case. I can't remember what exactly that evidence was right now - so I don't have much to say. Most probably, there was something about children… or no age restriction for children or something like this."

Well, we can only guess what this case against PornHub was really about. After Roskomnadzor announced that the ban comes in force immediately, the war of mocking on Twitter was on.

This is the second time PornHub gets blocked by Roskomnadzor in the last 2 years. When the agency banned the website for the first time in 2015, they got a Tweet from one "frustrated user" asking to at least suggest an alternative to the popular porn website. This was when Roskomnadzor made an appearance on Twitter with the "famous" tweet saying "Dear Lyolya, you could try and meet someone in real life as an alternative". This week, Roskomnadzor re-tweeted their own last year's tweet adding "Dear Internet lovers, our advice is still very relevant."

Then the Kremlin's media watchdog shared a tweet from another Russian user who said that he followed Roskomnadzor's advice from last year and got amazing results: he is about to get married. This started the unstoppable flow of mocking tweets from the users saying that the Russian government has just brought import restrictions to a whole new level. Other Twitter users said that PornHub ban was timed to come in force right before Russia's parliamentary elections on purpose, so that young Russian people finally show up to vote. And, of course, the political party that manages to bring PornHub back, will win the elections.

Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of the infamous Pussy Riot, tweeted: "Dear government, blocking PornHub is a hit below the belt."

PornHub itself also couldn't stay away:

But, unfortunately, Roskomnadzor didn't find this funny. PornHub didn't stop there and involved Barack Obama in the conversation asking him to help Edward Snowden who is stuck in Russia without access to PornHub.

Several Russian brands also chimed in. Aviasales, a big Russian travel price comparison website, turned their homepage into a PornHub-styled travel destinations page inviting travellers to visit "hot destinations". They tweeted: "PornHub is blocked? We know a way out! Visit Aviasales' PornHub version before Roskomnadzor finds out. Your left hand is enough to book your next flight ticket with us."

Anyway, kudos to Roskomnadzor for being so active on Twitter. All URLs of both websites were added to Russia's registry of illegal content.

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