Censorship of website content is a growing concern in countries all over the world — from buying Instagram likes to accessing a social media platform. Governments and organizations may restrict website content gain more control. They don’t want citizens to have freedom of speech, or they want to eliminate competition for certain services. They might be concerned about the government image being ruined or the population organizing a revolt.
Some of the most commonly blocked websites are social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. These social sites encourage freedom of expression, which goes against the laws in many of these countries.
Major Countries That Block Social Networks
There are many countries that block social media access. Here are some of the biggest perpetrators:
- China, Turkey, and Iran block Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
- Vietnam prevents its citizens from accessing Facebook, although there are occasional lifts of this ban to try to generate political sympathy.
- North Korea not only blocks all social media platforms, but it also prevents its citizens from accessing our version of the internet.
Whether you live in these countries or you’re just visiting, these restrictions present a huge challenge for online browsing. You have a basic right to privacy that should enable you to use the internet how you wish, even if the government wants control.
5 Ways to Use a VPN to Access Blocked Social Sites
There’s a shining star for those living in the midst of blocked internet access known as a virtual private network (VPN). Anyone can use a VPN for less restricted internet access, including entry to blocked social sites.
A good VPN offers enhanced privacy and security for your everyday internet browsing. Just picture an iron-clad tunnel between your device and the web. You’re the only one in that tunnel, and no outside forces, including spies and hackers, can gain entry or see what you’re doing. They probably don’t even know your tunnel exists, and they certainly don’t know you’re using it.
How do you make the VPN work in your favor? Here are a few ways.
1. Change the IP Address Location
With this affordable private network, you can manipulate the IP address location so that it appears in a region where those social sites aren’t blocked. It will tell your computer you’re accessing the internet from a location with fewer restrictions. Government-placed limitations prevent freedom of expression or carefree internet browsing.
2. Remove ISP Filters
Countries often use internet service providers (ISP) filters to block certain sites. The United States does this for some websites, although social media is not among their list of banned destinations. It’s a much less controversial and under-the-radar method of banning internet access.
If you’re in a country that uses this method to block your social sites, it’s one of the easiest problems to circumvent using a VPN. The government probably assumes that you’re unaware of this quiet method of censorship, but your VPN will remove ISP filters and enable free access to any website.
3. Prevent ASN Blocking
Autonomous System Number (ASN) blocking is one of the more controversial methods governments use to block social sites. It’s a more complex system that takes away all control from ISPs and consumers because it “tricks” the infrastructure into blocking a website.
Regulators identify an IP range that contains the IP address of the website they want to block. They allocate a smaller ASN to a certain website to block it. It forcers the routers to go through a government-controlled version of your website rather than the original site. When connecting to Wi-Fi and data in these countries, you’ll be unable to access the site as it was originally intended.
Unless you have a VPN, of course. You can simply change the IP address location so that the ASN hack your government used doesn’t impact you in the slightest.
4. Circumvent Whitelisting
In countries with ridiculous internet censorship problems like North Korea, whitelisting is the most common method of website blockage. Essentially, they have a Big Brother hold on all internet service providers and routers so that nobody can offer websites that they don’t approve. They have a few select sites that you can access (the white list), and the rest are on the blacklist.
You can use a VPN to visit any website in North Korea, and it’s surprising that more people aren’t doing it. Perhaps they’re unaware or they’re happy living in ignorance. If you’re not, use a VPN. It’s one of the best ways to allow unbridled access to the internet with a simple IP address adjustment.
5. Unblock Encrypted Traffic and Deep Packet Inspects
China’s solution for blocking social media sites that encourage freedom of expression is to block communications between devices and their internet networks. Unless the governing body determines that the contents of a website are acceptable to their freedom of speech laws, they won’t grant you access.
This method, like that of whitelisting, requires complete control over the internet infrastructure so they can force ISPs to censor all content they deem unacceptable. Unfortunately for these governments, there are many ways around the bans, including ISP hacks and a VPN. Your iron-clad tunnel to the network has no room for government intervention, and governments haven’t figured out a way how to prevent VPN access, and they probably never will.
VPNs are a godsend for those in countries with unfair laws about freedom of speech and censorship. It’s an affordable addition to your internet costs, and it’s well worth the investment for your innate rights to privacy.