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Just what every masturbator craves: social media integration Pornhub bans anonymous visitors in Russia, syncing age verification to Vkontakte

Meduza
11:37, 7 july 2017

Pe3k / Shutterstock

Three months after being unblocked in Russia by federal censors, Pornhub, the world’s largest online repository of adult content, has made it impossible for Russians to view the site anonymously.

Beginning this Thursday, Pornhub introduced a new age-verification system in Russia, where visitors must now prove their adulthood by granting the website permission to view their real name, birthdate, profile avatar, and autobiography on the social network Vkontakte. In an act of apparent mercy, Pornhub is not demanding users’ permission to post content on their Vkontakte pages, and it also insists that it doesn’t “use or save” visitors’ personal information.

On Thursday, Pornhub announced the new policy on its Vkontakte page, pitching the change as a welcome new feature. “Pissed off that you have to keep entering the year you were born? Now you can just log in through your favorite social network,” Pornhub wrote, downplaying the need to surrender personal data.

Pornhub’s new Russian login screen asks users to indicate whether the site’s adult materials “obey users’ local laws,” and doesn’t specify if the new, stricter age-verification method was one of the Russian government’s conditions for unblocking the website.

As a result of Pornhub's new policy, Russian visitors are now indirectly required to share their passport numbers in order to view the world's biggest adult website. It's actually a pretty nifty three-step waltz: to view Pornhub, Russians now need a Vkontakte account; to have a Vkontakte account, you need to enter your phone number; and in Russia, you need to share your passport information to purchase a SIM card legally.

From September 2016 to April 2017, Pornhub was blocked in Russia for disseminating pornography on the Internet. Officially, the site was unblocked upon review of the original court order, though representatives from Russia’s federal censor have joked that they backed off in exchange for free premium access to Pornhub.

Pornhub’s social media marketing strategy in Russia has relied heavily on Vkontakte, where the adult site became very active after it was blocked last year. Dmitry Kolodin from Aviasales, a Russian travel metasearch engine, runs Pornhub’s Vkontakte account.