Some countries, regions, and other government entities have blocked access to Facebook and similar social media sites – usually under the guise of protecting citizens from dissent or threats to state security. Many businesses, educational institutions, and non-profits have also restricted or blocked access to Facebook, for far more benign reasons – such as not wanting students to spend time on Facebook when in class, or employees to spend time on Facebook when they should be working. Whatever the reason, it’s safe to say that Facebook and many other similar sites are blocked on a number of public and private networks around the world.
Fortunately, there are ways around these blocks. The best option is using a VPN to bypass these and other content blocks while providing added security, privacy, and anonymity to your online activities.
VPN Services – Lots of Choices
First, it’s important to note that there are a ton of VPN service choices out there. Over 300 providers currently exist worldwide, of varying size, offering different features and levels of service for their customers. It can be a challenge to weed through all of these and find the best providers, or the provider that is right for you. Common things to look at including their privacy and security policies and options (e.g., what encryption technology they use), how large they are (number of servers/number of countries), their reputation/online reviews, speed when using the VPN, and what features they offer specifically. And of course, the price is always a consideration, since most of the better VPN providers are pay services. However, there are many sites out there that specifically exist to review VPN services and provide meaningful comparisons between the two. For example, you should read this comparison of NordVPN vs. PureVPN, two of the top services around today.
How Do VPN Services Work?
VPN services are fairly easy to use for most people. Once you sign up and pay for a subscription (if required), you gain access to their clients and apps, which cover a wide range of devices and operating systems. Once installed and launched, users simply choose a server from the VPN’s extensive lists, and connect. Then, they can go about their Internet browsing, with added safety, security, and anonymity.
Specifically, when a user connects to a VPN server, their traffic between their device and server is encrypted, in a secure connection. This means that government or ISP monitors cannot read the traffic, or see its ultimate destination – just an encoded stream of gibberish going to a server. At the VPN server, the data is decrypted. It then has an IP address from the VPN server’s pool added to it – this address is often shared by many users at once, and recycled from session to session. This is the address that the outside world sees, such as the destination servers for a user’s web traffic. The VPN server passes the traffic on to its destination. And then the process works essentially in reverse to route the response from the server back to the user.
This system provides several benefits for the user. In addition to the security of the encrypted connection (which is effectively impossible to break via brute force), they gain privacy and anonymity from ISPs, government censors, and network administrators. Destination servers can’t see the real IP address for the user, so they are further protected from hackers and malicious threats online. And, because connecting through the VPN server effectively renders the outbound point for traffic as the VPN server, and not the user’s local network, they can bypass any restrictions placed on their local network, including blocked sites. This is also a useful tool for bypassing geographic content restrictions, common on video streaming sites, music sites, and so forth – users simply access a VPN server in a country other than their own, and destination sites see the IP address of the VPN server in that country, and therefore grant access to the content for that country. This same method is often employed by users who want to gain access to geographically restricted content on Netflix and similar streaming platforms.
How Do VPN Services Let You Bypass Blocks on Facebook?
VPN services allow you to bypass both government and local network blocks on accessing Facebook (or really any other site, social media or otherwise). This is possible because the only outbound local network connection is to the VPN server. So long as the VPN server you choose is not a blocked address on your local network, or by the government, then there is no reason you would not be able to access it. From that point on, it’s as if you were accessing the Internet as a whole from the location of the VPN server, so the world is your oyster!
If you have sites, including Facebook, that is blocked by government means, the same bypassing technology should work – you just need to connect to a VPN server in a country other than your own. Most VPN providers maintain servers in 30, 60, even 100 countries around the world, so there are plenty of service provider options regardless of where you live.
Are VPN Services Legal?
Yes! VPN services are fully legal in almost every country in the world. Only 10 have passed any kind of legislation restricting them, with some requiring only state-approved VPNs be used, and others banning them outright. Fortunately, these are almost all authoritarian countries that already heavily restrict and censor their citizen’s access to the Internet. India, the US, Europe, and much of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and South America allow citizens to use VPNs without restrictions.
Of course, there is one note of caution here. While VPN services themselves are legal, that does not mean governments or law enforcement authorities condone using them for illegal purposes. Usually, accessing Facebook is not considered a criminal or illegal purpose, especially in the cases where the blocks are simply put in place for reasons of productivity (i.e., at work and school network locations). Just be aware your connection to a VPN server is still traceable, and those server IPs could, eventually, be banned or restricted by your local network administrator.