The Chinese censorship over social media websites is referred to as the Great Firewall or the GFW.
The comparison is very aptly drawn because the firewalling done by China to block access to websites like Facebook and Twitter is so absolute and strict that there are virtually very few options left through which you can access these websites in China.
Inevitably, this censorship has not only denied the local Chinese population from accessing these portals, but even tourists and businessmen travelling to China are not able to access their own accounts on Facebook.
In a world where we have become used to staying connected to everyone through social media, it can really turn out to be a major crisis if we are not able to log in to our Facebook accounts for days at a stretch. And what about those people who have to relocate to China for a few months or years for work opportunities? Will they have to give up on Facebook just because they happen to work in China? Fortunately, the answer is NO.
There are some very popular, safe and legal ways through which you can access Facebook in China and that too absolutely free. Check out the three most popular ways by which you can bypass the Great Firewall to access not just Facebook but any website that you want:
The most popular and secure way of accessing blocked websites is through a VPN or a Virtual Private Network.
What is a VPN?
A VPN service hides your true IP address and bypasses your internet service provider’s firewalls to give you unlimited access to even those websites that are blocked through the country’s firewall.
Through a VPN service, you are able to browse the internet without facing any kind of restrictions at all, whether geographical or otherwise. A VPN service also ensures immense security and anonymity as it hides your true IP address and makes it difficult for the third parties to track your online browsing activity or intercept your communications.
How does a VPN work?
There are hundreds of VPN services available to choose from. Each of these services comes with their own separate terms and conditions as well as unique features.
A VPN service generally has servers located in many different locations. Therefore, when you access the internet from China through a VPN service, it will route your search to a server located outside China, thus making the websites blocked in China accessible.
2. Proxy website
A cheaper and more convenient alternative to VPN services for accessing Facebook is through a Proxy website. However, it does come with its own drawbacks. Let’s find out how.
What is a proxy website?
As the name suggests, a proxy website has been set up just for the purpose of hiding the user’s identity and acting as a gateway for accessing geo-blocked websites. A proxy website lets you access blocked websites by hoodwinking your internet service provider into believing that you are accessing the website from a completely different location.
For example, if you log onto a US-based proxy website from China and then access Facebook through it, it will use the data connection of your internet service provider but send them a message that you are accessing Facebook from the US so that you do not face the Great Firewall.
How does a proxy work?
Accessing a proxy website does not need any kind of subscription. In fact, you do not even need to download any setup on to your device. Instead, it is completely web-based and can be opened directly from your browser.
However, a proxy website’s one major drawback is that it is not strictly legal and is therefore subject to internet policing. The Chinese cyber-cops are technically advanced and have blocked most of the highly used proxies.
However, new proxies are set up every day and you just have to keep yourself updated on which proxies are currently in use to access Facebook at all times from China.
TOR which is short for The Onion Router uses a complex encryption system for hiding your identity and granting access to blocked websites.
What is TOR?
TOR comes in the form of a software which can be downloaded as a package from the internet on to your USB drive. Thereafter, you can simply plug in the USB on your laptop and use the TOR software to access Facebook or any other website that has been blocked in China.
TOR is absolutely free of cost and provides a very high level of encryption because of its design which relays information over several loops located all across the world.
How does TOR work?
The TOR network uses its own browser and therefore cannot be accessed through a regular browser such as Chrome or Safari. Although it does grant secure access to any blocked website including Facebook, it makes the connection very slow because of its heavy encryption system.
Moreover, TOR is also something that Chinese cyber-cops have been seeking to block but have only managed to block its HTTP link till now. It would be a good idea to check whether TOR will suit your needs beforehand, rather than completely relying on it.
Conclusion: Which Option Should You Go For?
Although all the above mentioned three methods are safe for accessing Facebook in China, they all have their individual advantages and disadvantages. Proxy websites and TOR are slightly less reliable as they are major targets for cyber cops. On the other hand, VPN services, though reliable are not always free and will require you to buy a monthly, quarterly or yearly package.
However, many VPN services also offer free trial packages and money back guarantees. Our recommendation is that you should try out all of these three options to see which works best for you before making a commitment to any of them for long-term use.