Searches for VPN Soar in Utah Amidst PornHub Blockage

Utah's Google search volume for "VPN" is soaring following PornHub's decision to shut down access for the state in response to strict ID laws.

PornHub Access Blocked in Utah

PornHub, perhaps the internet's largest porn site, has blocked Utahns from accessing content in response to the state's requirement that they verify user's identity. The requirement is the strictest in the nation, in line with our findings that Utah is among the most culturally conservative states. In response to the company's move, Utahns are apparently looking to circumvent the "boobie blockade" using VPNs - or Virtual Private Networks. These services can be used to fool public networks into thinking users are accessing content from somewhere else — for example somewhere where their adult videos of choice are still available. According to search data acquired from Google Trends, Utah's search interest in VPNs has exploded since the site was blocked.

A Map of Utah's VPN Search Interest Over Time

A simple heat map showing search volume for VPNs after the blockage is telling.

In March, before the blockage, the map told an entirely different story.

A statement from PornHub, which is shared below, explains the company's position.

PornHub's Statement Explaining its Decision to Block Utah


Google Trends data was collected for the search term "VPN" for all 50 U.S. states and D.C. for May 2, 2023 as well as the full month of March, 2023. Google's proprietary 100 point scoring system was used to represent each term's normalized search volume proportional to all other searches in the region or time period compared. In this system, 100 represents the highest popularity for the term, 50 represents half the popularity, and so on. Data revealing search volume over time was also collected for Utah from April 25, 2023-May 2, 2023.

Google Trends data is widely regarded as a strong source for measuring American public interest. According to a 2021 paper published in American Behavioral Scientist found that "this method has predicted the real winner in all the elections held since 2004."

About CCI

CCI is a full service global PR, marketing, and market research firm headquartered in Austin, TX with a specialty in technology — particularly tech startups. We study trends in public opinion and build multichannel campaigns to suit client objectives. Clients range from pre-seed startups to Fortune 500 enterprises.