Thailand’s government on Tuesday banned Pornhub and 190 other porn sites, a decision which has sparked social media outrage in the country.

According to the country’s Digital Minister Puttipong Punnakanta, the ban was part of efforts to restrict access to porn and gambling websites. Punnakanta added that such content is illegal under the country’s cybercrime law.

Following the ban, a closure order appeared on all these sites stating that the content is allegedly “guilty according to the Computer Crime Act 2007 by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society”.

However, many were not satisfied with the reason and criticised the move, labelling it as censorship and calling for protests. #SavePornHub and another hashtag which translates as #HornyPower trended on Thai Twitter for hours, with tweets making comments or posting memes that the government would be facing greater opposition now beyond the protesters.

Thailand, which has a globally-known sex industry, was among the Top 20 countries by daily traffic for Pornhub in 2019. According to Pornhub, users in Thailand spent more time on the site – 11 minutes and 21 seconds – last year than those elsewhere in the world.

A Twitter user named Jirawat Punnawat wrote: “If someone doesn’t hate the current military government, now they probably do.”

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.

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

This is not the first time the Thailand government would be censoring internet contents. As pornography is illegal in Thailand, a vast majority of the banned digital contents and websites are pornographic. Websites or digital platforms that encourage gambling or deemed to pose threats to national security, which includes criticisms of the king, government or military.

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.

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