Pornhub says traffic surged during Facebook outage

BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2020/11/03: A man looks on while wearing a cap with the Pornhub logo during a pr...


Pornhub's self-reported traffic increase during the outage.


SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

What else were people going to do with their time? Pornhub says that its traffic surged by as much as 10.5 percent around the time of Facebook’s widespread outage on Monday. That equates to half a million additional users during each hour Facebook’s services were down, or one very big... bulge.

Major oops — The downtime was historic, reportedly the longest disruption for Facebook since 2008 when a bug knocked the site offline for nearly a day. The social media giant has spent years combining the infrastructure of its disparate apps — including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger — and the consequence was that any mistake that knocked one service offline took them all with it. But the situation was so bad that even Facebook’s corporate infrastructure was impacted, and engineers temporarily couldn’t enter its buildings to investigate the outage. Oculus VR services were also inoperable for anyone trying to buy games or play with friends.

Look at that... bulge. Pornhub

Some speculated that Facebook’s outage was caused by a hack in response to revelations that it was aware of Instagram’s negative impact on teen girls. The company denied that, attributing it to an error with a configuration change in its servers.

Marketing prowess — Porn basically sells itself, but Pornhub, one of the most visited websites in the world, has always stood out for its clever marketing stunts. It was one of the first porn sites to offer VR experiences, for instance, and recently created audio tours that listeners can use to explore the erotic art in real-world museums. Pornhub back in May used artificial intelligence technology to colorize vintage, black-and-white pornography.

The company has been the subject of controversy, though, after a report in The New York Times shed light on non-consensual porn that was living on the site. Pornhub operated like YouTube, allowing anyone to upload content. In the wake of the story, it has reigned in uploads and required users to verify their identities, among other measures. The Times article was influenced in part by religious groups that believe all pornography should be illegal, and Pornhub has largely been able to move past the controversy by removing millions of videos and releasing transparency reports. The moderation (or lack thereof) was a problem for a lot of people, not the existence of porn itself.