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Facebook is the most-searched word on Google: No wonder, as the platform has over 2.9 billion active accounts monthly. To say it’s popular would be a massive understatement.
However, Facebook’s widespread reach, and US headquarters are seen as a threat by some governments. Some countries ban access to significant sections of the internet for political reasons, and Facebook is often included in these blocks.
The need to bypass a Facebook blocker isn’t strictly limited to countries such as North Korea or China. Other states have also blocked access to Facebook for their citizens, as we’ve previously seen with India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. The US and UK are also known for passing legislation that imposes restrictive measures and attempted internet censorship.
Are you planning to travel abroad to a country that blocks access to websites such as Facebook? Do you suspect that you are seeing a filtered version of the internet? If the answer is yes, keep reading as we cover how to get past this issue in our guide.
Facebook Access Restrictions
One method that countries use to block their citizens from accessing a particular website like Facebook, is to exert control over their internet service providers (ISPs). If governments have legislation that supports blacklisting web pages, then ISPs need to block them to stay compliant with the law.
ISPs can block a website URL at a domain name system (DNS) level, but more advanced options and technology exist. Iran and Turkey, for example, obstruct their residents by using packet filtering as an active way of preventing access to restricted websites.
A specific message will notify you that the site is blocked. Alternatively, the browser will inform you that the page is unreachable, like in the image below where Google Chrome can’t connect to YouTube.
Reasons for Facebook Restrictions
Facebook sometimes serves as a forum for discussion among like-minded individuals about all sorts of topics. As you can imagine, such public debates can cause discontent, and some governments take policing to a whole new level by blocking access to public forums where these discussions take place. Restriction of Facebook and other similar websites is often part of limiting access to information.
Most countries restrict Facebook use for political reasons, be they ideology or religion-based. Here are a few countries that currently block Facebook access for their citizens and their reasons for doing so:
The Great Firewall of China is famous for not letting through any internet content not approved by the government. After the July 2009 Xinjiang riots, the government banned Facebook use, as it was used to communicate and organize the riots across the city. Since Facebook refused to disclose the data it had on the protestors at the time, this was further reason to block it.
Currently, there are few areas in China where accessing Facebook without restriction is possible. Those are Hong Kong, Macau, and a part of the free trade zone in Shanghai.
- North Korea
In North Korea, most of the population doesn’t have access to the internet. Those who have can access the North Korean version of the internet or Kwangmyong, which, in translation, means a walled garden. Only some students and professors at Pyongyang University have access to unfiltered internet from specialized laboratories.
For foreign visitors, a 3G network is available and strictly monitored. Facebook was blocked in 2016 by the central government, and anyone accessing it without special permission is subject to punishment.
Vietnam government, in 2016, for more than two weeks, blocked Facebook because of political protests to limit the communication between dissatisfied citizens. There’s no need to bypass a Facebook blocker in Vietnam, but the state has been known to target citizens whose opinions don’t align with those held by the government.
Vietnam had more than 65 million Facebook users in 2021, and it’s still a vital portal for personal and business use in the country.
Cuban law allows only politicians, journalists, and some medical students to have internet access at home. If you are not among the population with special permission, you must use licensed internet cafes. Hourly rates at these establishments are overpriced, making it almost impossible to use for the average Cuban citizen.
According to reports, government-operated ISPs throttle connection speed for social media sites such as Facebook. There is no need to get around Facebook blocks, but the website takes minutes to load, making it almost unusable.
After a controversial election in 2009, Iran blocked Facebook, as well as many other sites, to prevent citizens from accessing and discussing internet content deemed anti-social and anti-Islamic. The motivation is to silence groups in opposition to the current regime. Therefore, many social media websites are on this government blacklist.
The Bangladeshi government had temporarily blocked Facebook access in 2010 and, more recently, in 2021. The first occurrence was in reaction to satirical comics of country officials, and drawings of the Prophet Muhammad – visualizations of him are against the tenets of Islam – were to be hosted on a local Facebook page. Since then, the government has monitored user activity and Facebook access and occasionally targets users who post content deemed seditious or blasphemous.
In 2016 a six-month ban was imposed on social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter in the Kashmir Valley by the Indian government. This was done under the excuse that elements from Pakistan organized anti-social and anti-national groups.
There were also several other instances when Facebook was banned for a few days, like during the riots in Chandigarh, Haryana, and Punjab after the conviction of Baba Ram Rahim Singh.
Like Bangladesh, Pakistan temporarily blocked Facebook because of the global competition held online to produce the drawing of the Prophet Muhammad. Currently, only individual Facebook pages are filtered out because of the political or religious content seen as harmful.
In 2012, Facebook was blocked entirely in Tajikistan as negative comments were posted on it about government officials and President Emomali Rahmon.
Egypt blocked Facebook During the attempted overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. Since then, Egypt hasn’t officially limited access to social media websites, but the connection is throttled.
In 2014, Facebook was forced by the Russian government to block all links on its platform that supported the opposition leader at the time, Aleksei A. Navalny. While Russia didn’t block the platform, more than 10 million users were stopped from voicing their support.
Methods for Bypassing Facebook Blocks
If you are planning to travel and expect to encounter Facebook restrictions abroad, you need to have a few options in mind to access the platform.
1. DNS Server Settings
DNS, in simple terms, connects a website with its IP address. This makes it easier for you to browse the internet, as you don’t have to remember that one of the IP addresses Facebook uses is 184.108.40.206, and can just type in facebook.com in your address bar.
By default, the ISP provider sets up its DNS server, meaning that it can filter user traffic through it. Thankfully, you can change the DNS server you are using. Often, this does the trick and opens access to restricted sites, so you can try changing the server to public ones like Google’s and Cloudflare’s. Here’s how you can change it on Windows 10 in a few simple steps and bypass Facebook blocked through your ISP’s DNS server.
First, open the Control Panel. Just open the start menu and type “Control Panel” to quickly locate settings.
Then click on “Network and Internet” and open “Network and Sharing Center.” Since we want to change the DNS server, click on “Change adapter settings.”
You will see your active network connections. In most cases, you will have only your “Ethernet,” which is your internet connection. Right-click on it and select “Properties.”
Don’t get discouraged by the number of different options you have on the properties window. Select “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)” and click on “Properties.”
In the next window, select the “Use the following DNS server addresses” option. If you want to use Google’s DNS server, enter 220.127.116.11, as the preferred DNS server, and 18.104.22.168 as the alternate. In our screenshot below, we have configured to use Cloudflare’s DNS server with 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 addresses.
2. Tor Network and Tor Browser
Sometimes, changing the DNS server is not enough to bypass a Facebook blocker imposed by government restrictions. That’s when using a Tor browser comes in handy.
Tor or The Onion Router is software used for anonymous communication. Your internet traffic is routed through multiple servers in the network if you use a Tor browser, so your connection is obfuscated and hard for ISP or the government to track.
With Tor, your access will be unblocked for Facebook’s website and many others, but routing traffic through multiple network points slows down your internet speed. As some countries already throttle speed for social media websites, Tor might not be the best solution.
VPN protocols keep you private online, and they are the best solution for anyone wanting to view blocked Facebook content. VPN stands for virtual private network, and it’s used to keep your data encrypted, and all communication routed safely through a tunneling protocol. For that reason, they are also frowned upon and made illegal in countries where the government tightly controls what people can access on the internet.
VPNs use multiple tunneling protocols to improve users’ privacy and security from the prying eyes of censorship and let you access content that would be otherwise blocked because of your geographical location. Open-source VPN protocols such as WireGuard and OpenVPN can even bypass the most restrictive censorship, like the Great Firewall of China.
If you are unfamiliar with companies that offer VPN services, we have some recommendations to help you open Facebook’s website if it’s blocked in the country you are visiting:
If you want the best service and features, you will not make a mistake with ExpressVPN. It has what’s most important for a comprehensive VPN service: A massive number of servers worldwide.
With more than 3,000 servers across 94 countries, you’ll be able to surf the internet as if you are in any of those locations. With one subscription, you can have five simultaneous connections, which means that you’ll be able to connect any Windows, macOS, or Linux computer and smartphones that use iOS or Android.
ExpressVPN uses OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, IKEv1, IKEv2, and their proprietary protocol Lightway based on WolfSSL.
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NordVPN is a trustworthy and renowned VPN service provider with a staggering number of servers. With more than 5,300 of them, this VPN service is famous for being one of the fastest in the industry. If you’re unsure how to get around a Facebook block imposed by the country you’re traveling to, NordVPN may be the best choice.
NordVPN isn’t just used to bypass censure in countries where sites are blocked for political reasons. It also unlocks access to a range of streaming services, like Amazon Prime, Netflix, BBC, HBO, Hulu, and many others. Currently, it supports OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, and WireGuard protocols, and you can use it on six devices simultaneously.
Most importantly, any traffic from your smartphone or PC will look like regular HTTPS traffic, and obfuscated NordVPN servers make sure you can break through state censorship.
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If you feel like the options provided by other VPN services we listed here are too limiting, then SurfShark may be the best alternative.
With one SurfShark subscription, you can have it on an unlimited number of devices. With 1,700 servers in 63 countries, you will have plenty of locations to choose from. Another interesting aspect of SurfShark servers is that they are RAM-only. No user data is ever retained as it can’t be recorded on RAM, ensuring 100% privacy.
If you don’t want to have a transaction with a VPN service recorded with your bank, you can also pay with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ether.
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Another service that we like to recommend is VyprVPN. This Switzerland-based company keeps no logs, is independently audited, and gets you through any censorship barriers.
VyprVPN has more than 700 servers across the globe, which doesn’t sound very impressive, but the server speeds are among the fastest in the industry, and they cover more than 70 countries.
With an affordable payment plan, low impact on your internet speeds, advanced encryption, and unlocked streaming services, VyperVPN may be the most convenient option.
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Another provider that can show you how to bypass any Facebook restriction or censorship is PrivateVPN. Whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, or PC, the suitable VPN protocol will help you break through government-imposed internet boundaries.
PrivateVPN uses proven and tested protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and IPSec. With its service, you will browse the web like you are a resident of any of the 63 countries that house its servers. Furthermore, you can pay in Bitcoin and avoid bank scrutiny.
Low-latency connections with internet speeds that aren’t bottlenecked by a VPN are just some of the advantages of PrivateVPN.
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Fear of dissent is the key reason various regimes impose limitations on what their citizens can read online. If you don’t agree with someone restricting your free access to information, then some of the solutions we list here may exactly be what you need. Whether it will be as simple as changing a DNS server, using a Tor Browser, or a VPN for your Android or iOS smartphone, the steps you’ll take will depend on how oppressive the government-imposed blocking is.
Give the recommended VPN services a try and see for yourself. We are sure that they will bring more value than simply providing you with an unblocked Facebook login page.