#SavePornhub: Thailand's online porn ban prompts backlash

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s government said on Tuesday it had banned Pornhub and 190 other websites showing pornography, prompting social media anger over censorship and a call for a protest against the decision.

A message from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society saying that the Pornhub website has been suspended in Thailand is displayed on a TV screen in this illustration picture taken November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/Illustration

Digital minister Puttipong Punnakanta told reporters the block was part of efforts to restrict access to porn and gambling websites, adding that such content is illegal under the country’s cybercrime law.

But many Thai users criticised the decision to shut the site in a country that was among the Top 20 by daily traffic for Pornhub in 2019 and which has a globally-known sex industry.

An activist group called Anonymous Party posted a statement saying: “We want to reclaim Pornhub. People are entitled to choices.” Another group, using the hashtag #SavePornhub, called a demonstration for Tuesday afternoon.

Pornhub did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some internet users asked whether the ban was about trying to protect Thai morals or because the site featured some compromising royal images.

Thailand’s government has faced months of youth and student-led protests demanding the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader, as well as calling for reforms to reduce King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s powers.

A hashtag that translates as #HornyPower is trending on Thai Twitter following the Pornhub block, with tweets making comments or posting memes that the government would be facing greater opposition now beyond the protesters.

“If someone doesn’t hate the current military government, now they probably do,” said a user named Jirawat Punnawat on Twitter.

Emilie Pradichit, director of the Manushya Foundation, which campaigns for digital rights, said the decision showed Thailand was “a land of digital dictatorship, with conservatives in power trying to control what young people can watch, can say and can do online.”

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