Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are three of the most-visited websites in the world, but did you know that in some areas of the world these services continue to be censored or blocked entirely? That can be bad news if you happen to be traveling or working in an area where these sites are restricted. Using a VPN can help you avoid the censorship of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in many cases.
Which Countries Block Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube?
Let’s address these individually. We’ll start with Facebook. Facebook has managed to overcome much of the censorship it faced in its early days. As of March 2013, there are four countries which block Facebook entirely: China, North Korea, Cuba, and Iran. Despite the block, there are people within these countries that still manage to use Facebook. It is important to remember, however, that a block will prevent you from creating an account in many cases. A VPN is most useful for individuals who already have a Facebook account and want to continue using it in a restricted area.
Twitter has been censored at various times in China, India, France, Egypt, Iran, and South Korea. The United Kingdom even threatened to shut it down during the 2011 England Riots! In the case of Twitter, it is far more likely to find examples of selective censorship as opposed to outright blocking. Governments can affect the removal of objectionable tweets. Once again, even though Twitter is blocked in China, many people there continue to use the service. A VPN can restore your access to Twitter in most cases.
YouTube falls under many of the same sanctions aimed at Twitter. It is far more likely to find individual videos removed. However, as of late 2012, the following countries are among those which have a national ban in place against YouTube: China, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. VPN’s have been successfully proven to restore YouTube access in these areas.
We want to be clear once again: a VPN works when you have an existing Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter account registered from a location that is not blocked. For example, you live in the US and are planning on visiting China. If you attempt to access Facebook when you arrive from a Chinese ISP your access will be blocked. A private, paid VPN is the only option for those who happen to be in a country hit by serious web filtering.
A Quick Word on Free Vs. Paid VPN
Using a free VPN service might sound nice, but here’s a quick reality check. Free VPN’s are easily blocked in many cases by whoever is responsible for enforcing web filtering. In addition, just try getting customer service from a free VPN. If you want to maintain access to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter in restrictive countries, the only dependable fix is your own paid VPN account.
Why do countries block social sharing sites?
Websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter can be broadly classed under the definition of social sharing sites. Users can post updates and share media across the various platforms. That doesn’t seem like it would be such a big deal, but to countries that actively censor the Internet these sites pose a significant problem.
To begin with, social networks are difficult to monitor. Think for a moment about the millions of people who use Facebook alone. Trying to manually monitor every post for offensive or prohibited content is economically and practically impossible. There are only two viable options for countries like China in this case: block the site entirely or use sophisticated software to essentially spy on users. China has chosen the former in most cases, although they do still monitor many sites.
Secondly, social networks are virtually impossible to control. When a Tweet is sent there are vast numbers of people who can see it before it gets deleted. It’s the same with Facebook. The easiest and most effective means of controlling which information gets out is to simply block the troublesome sites.
Very recently, communications websites like Skype and Viber are also being targeted for the same reason. They make it too easy for users to contact other people in non-restricted areas.
A small caveat is in order here. Our website does not exist to provide political commentary on various countries that promote Internet censorship. Some countries may have valid reasons for doing so, which include matters of national security. What we do provide is an option for those people who may find themselves in a country which censors Web activity. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to keep accessing the websites that are available in your own country. This is the primary reason that people choose to use a VPN legitimately. We do not endorse or support using your VPN account for activities that would be considered objectionable in ANY part of the world, such as using torrents to download copyrighted material.
True Anonymity and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
Many people who purchase a VPN are very conscious of maintaining their online privacy. They like the encryption offered by a VPN and the ability to be anonymous online. Something you need to remember is that whenever you login to a website like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, your anonymity is sacrificed.
Social networks require account registrations, and most people use their regular email to sign up. Whenever you login, your activities within the platform are easily tracked and monitored. In that sense, using a VPN won’t make you invisible.
A VPN is your online passport
Try to think about your VPN as an online passport. You can’t cross borders without a real passport, and you can’t cross online borders without a VPN. The checkpoints in place to prevent access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from countries like China will stop you in your tracks. You wouldn’t dream of trying to travel overseas without your passport, and you shouldn’t dream of traveling overseas without a VPN account.