Being able to access Facebook in China is not as easy as it used to be. I’ve been in China for more than five years now. I was here before Facebook was blocked, and it’s been a slippery slope for the scope of the Internet in China for as long as I can remember.
Every year there are fewer and fewer sites accessible from behind The Great Firewall. What’s worse, there are way to access blocked sites in China, but these are slowly getting weeded out by the Chinese government, and while just a few years ago there were hundreds of ways to access Facebook in China, there are now just a few.
Back in 2009, I remember using a bit of software called Freegate to access Facebook in China. It was free, and was passed around between me and a couple of my colleagues at work. Their official site was quickly blocked in China, but I was lucky enough to have a group of friends to pass the software to me.
Just a few months later, Freegate was useless.
Then I started using a site called Privacy Tunnel (or something like that, I can’t really remember). It was a free proxy that was (again), introduced to me by a friend of mine. Proxies reroute your information to a server somewhere outside of China and change your IP address – this is how you’re able to access Facebook in China though a proxy.
At that time there were tons of free proxies available, and as soon as one got blocked, more seemed to pop up. You could always find fresh ones in forums and by word of mouth.
But China’s been working hard at blocking proxies, and I can only think of a few that still work today….NONE of which are free.
Then I discovered VPNs. I had never heard of VPNs before 2010 when I got tired of spending HOURS on the Internet looking for ways to access Facebook in China. I found the cheapest one possible (12VPN) and went for it.
I couldn’t believe how much more convenient it was. Instead of having to type my URL into the proxy browser, all I had to do was connect to the VPN (after downloading and installing it on my computer), and then I could surf the Internet without thinking about it. At that time is was 30 dollars for a year of service, and I couldn’t have been happier.
But the game has changed in 2011.
Some big stuff went down in Egypt – The Twitter Revolution. And there was a small movement in China that tried to follow.
Facebook and Twitter were deemed heroes in The West as catalysts for political change. So you can guess how the socialist government of China felt about that.
The immediately blocked some of the biggest names in VPN providers – StrongVPN, 12VPN, Witopia, and Freedur.
Not only that, but they blocked PPTP and L2TP VPN protocols which are used on mobile devices like smart phones (iPhone/Android) and tablet computers (iPad/Android).
Most VPN services soon recovered, with higher prices, special China packages, and frequent updates to their SSL/OpenVPN. But the game wasn’t over. If you’ve been to Unblock Facebook in China .info before, you know that things change frequently. It seems that right when I updated the site to include all the VPN services that had recovered nicely from the March 2011 blocks, VPN sites started going down again. Two of my favorite VPN services are currently blocked in many parts China (StrongVPN and 12VPN). The SSL/OpenVPN still works great for both, but the sites are inaccessible, making it impossible to sign up.
So how can you access Facebook in China now?
Well there are other VPN services available. I’ve tried many. The only one I can really recommend, that’s not blocked of course, is VyprVPN. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but it works, and it’s fast.
There’s also a web based proxy service called Securitales. This works well also.
Which one is better? Let’s compare.
Why you should use VyprVPN
- It’s faster
- It’s more secure
- It’s more convenient
- You can watch Hulu/Netflix/Pandora/BBC iPlayer
Check out the full review of VyprVPN here
Why you should use Securitales
- You can install it on iPhone, iPad, Android, and mobile devices
- There’s nothing to install so you can use it at work and on school computers
- It’s cheaper ($72/year)
Remember that not just Facebook is blocked in China. Youtube, Twitter, Blogger, parts of Wikipedia, Google images, and thousands of other sites are blocked for seemingly no reason.
* Want to protect your Gmail account from getting hacked?
* * Did you know that Hotmail and Yahoo were both victims of Chinese hackers this year?
* * * What will you do if your email service is blocked in China?
* * * * How will you make phone calls if Skype is blocked?
You can forget about all these problems with a VPN or Web Based Proxy.