Russia really doesn’t want its citizens to watch porn.

Russia Cracks Down On Porn Sites, Trolls Those Who Complain

Russia Cracks Down On Porn Sites, Trolls Those Who Complain

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 16 2016 4:49 PM

Russia Cracks Down On Porn Sites, Trolls Those Who Complain

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Russia has long censored swaths of the internet, including sites that violate a law banning “the illegal production, dissemination and advertisement of pornographic materials and objects.” This week, it blocked access to two of the world’s largest porn sites, Pornhub and YouPorn. BBC News reported the sites “redirect to a message explaining they have been blocked ‘by decision of public authorities.’ ”

There’s nothing exceedingly novel about the ban itself—the country’s communications and media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has blacklisted thousands of websites in the past, and in 2015, according to BBC News, Roskomnadzor, banned 11 porn websites, including Pornhub’s Russian subdomain (other subdomains were still accessible). After the 2015 bans, BBC News wrote that one woman called Lyolya tweeted to Roskomnadzor to ask about possible alternatives for the banned porn sites. It responded: "Dear Lyolya, as an alternative you could try and meet someone in real life."

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Someone at the Roskomnadzor must have been really proud of that attempt at a zinger, because the organization brought it back after the new round of porn site bans this week. It retweeted the one-line, adding: “Dear lovers of the Internet, this piece of advice still stands.”

Ars Technica wrote that the “much-mocked tweet apparently attracted a reply from the original Lyolya, who asked why the watchdog hadn't ‘come up with something new.’ ”

Not the best comeback, but A for effort, Lyolya. Clearly needing to get the last word, Roskomnadzor asked “whether it was possible ‘to enter the same river twice.’ " Pretty weak.

Pornhub decided to get in on the fun, too, offering the government agency a premium Pornhub account in exchange for lifting the ban. Now obviously out of its depth, Roskomnadzor grasped for a response and came up with: “Sorry, we are not in the market and the demography is not a commodity.” Huh?

Pornhub got the final Twitter burn, telling its Russian customers the site was—after all that—not actually blocked.

Except: A spokesman for Pornhub confirmed to Slate that Pornhub is indeed blocked in the country but said other subdomains “may not be blocked yet.” (Confusing, I know.) He also said the company is looking to appeal the decision.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.