Bypass online censorship: Quick recap
Internet censorship is becoming increasingly common. There is often a political reason for this. In some countries, certain news or social media sites are blocked because the government does not want citizens to have access to this information.
A VPN connection offers a solution to circumvent this censorship. Follow the steps below:
- Get a subscription from a good VPN provider like ExpressVPN.
- Download VPN software on your smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop.
- Start VPN and connect to a server in a country where there is no censorship.
- You now have access to blocked content as your data traffic is redirected to a country where there is no censorship.
More information on how to bypass online censorship can be found in the article below.
We normally associate online censorship with countries like China and Turkey, but you will be surprised at how widespread the problem is. To get around these types of geo-restrictions, you can use a VPN. If, for example, the use of Facebook is prohibited in your country, you can access the site through a VPN server in a different country. In this way, it is as if you were accessing the internet from that other country, gaining access to restricted sites and services.
In this article, you can read all about the different forms of online censorship and how to get around them with a VPN. In our eyes, freedom of expression is one of the most important basic human rights, and we must protect it at all times. You’ll find out everything you need to know about social media censorship, news sites, and other services below. In addition, we will explain how a VPN can help you.
What is meant by online censorship?
What is online censorship? Internet censorship is the suppression of what can be accessed or viewed on the Internet. It is often carried out by governments for political reasons. Governments around the world choose to censor the web and block social media or news sites.
Fortunately, you can bypass internet censorship with a VPN.
Bypass Online Censorship with a VPN
It can be very unpleasant if, during your holiday or during your stay in some other country, you are disturbed by the internet censorship applicable there. For example, Facebook or WhatsApp may be blocked, or a certain website may be blocked.
A VPN is a good solution to the problem of online censorship. With a VPN, you can bypass geo-restrictions in the country and regain access to social media and all your favourite websites.
Below, we explain exactly how a VPN works.
How does a VPN work?
When using a VPN connection, internet traffic is encrypted. You connect through a remote server and your IP address changes.
When using a VPN, you can select the location from which you want to access the Internet. The VPN sends your traffic through a server in that country, and you access the internet not with your own IP address, but with that server’s IP address. For websites, it will look like you are accessing them from the country you selected. That way, you can easily bypass censorship in the country you are in.
A VPN also offers many other benefits. You gain freedom with the ability to bypass geographic restrictions. This can, for example, help you to watch Netflix content from another country. And there’s more!
The VPN also provides anonymity because your own IP address will not be visible to anyone. With a VPN, no one will be able to connect your online actions to your location or person. Read more about the benefits of this incognito browsing.
Lastly, a VPN offers a lot of security. VPN software encrypts all data on your computer. No hacker or government will be able to decrypt this encrypted traffic. Your personal information and internet traffic are safe using a VPN.
Best VPN Providers to Bypass Online Censorship
We’ve created a list of the top three VPN providers that can help you bypass censorship. For this list, we’ve combined our general list of the best VPN providers, with the features a VPN needs to have to fight censorship.
The problem is that some countries have started blocking VPN provider websites. We selected the providers that managed to be available in all (or almost) places. Another important feature is the money-back guarantee. That way, you can easily test the service to see if it works. If it doesn’t work as you want, you can unsubscribe and get a refund.
While there are decent free VPN providers, we would not recommend them for the purpose of bypassing online censorship. Free VPNs are often not secure and sometimes sell your data to third parties. Moreover, free VPNs typically have data and speed limits.
Planning to use a VPN because you are going on holiday to a country where services are blocked? We advise you to install your VPN before leaving. Because, as mentioned earlier, the provider’s website may be blocked in that country.
Bypass Censorship with ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN tops most of our lists for many reasons. ExpressVPN helps you get a stable and secure connection wherever you are. They have great customer support and easy-to-use apps.
ExpressVPN is a little pricey, but you get the best quality in return. You won’t have to worry about censorship with ExpressVPN because you can easily set up a connection that bypasses geo-restrictions. This VPN allows you to access Facebook and other blocked websites quickly.
They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can take this time to test out their apps.
Bypass Censorship with NordVPN
NordVPN is a very good and solid VPN provider that definitely ranks among the best. They offer many servers all over the world for a very reasonable price.
Especially if you care about your online privacy, they are the provider for you! NordVPN cares deeply about your online safety and keeps no logs.
NordVPN helps you bypass geo-blocked content around the world. YouTube, WhatsApp, Skype, blocked news sites; everything can be accessed from anywhere in the world using this VPN.
They also have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test whether the services meet your needs.
Bypass censorship with Surfshark
Surfshark is a premium VPN at a very attractive price. This VPN is very suitable for bypassing online censorship. For example, you can use VPN when you are in a country where WhatsApp is blocked.
With good speeds and a stable connection, you can access the internet anonymously. The 30-day money-back guarantee gives you the opportunity to test whether this VPN connection works in the country you are in (on holiday).
Examples of internet censorship
Online censorship is becoming increasingly common. Countries like China, Turkey, Iran and North Korea are known to block access to social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, for example, are being censored there.
In addition to social media censorship, countries also block specific websites. These countries deny citizens access to specific websites. Not only citizens are affected by this, but travelers are also affected by this censorship.
Below we discuss some examples of Internet censorship.
Censorship in Social Media
Social Media is a place where people can express their thoughts and opinions without filters. This can be a threat to some governments. Social media is a perfect way to bring together large groups of like-minded people.
Governments that do not allow any opposition fear that social media could generate resistance. For this reason, they will restrict or completely ban the use of certain media in your country. Fortunately, there are ways around this, and one of them is with the use of a VPN.
Censorship on Facebook and Twitter
Twitter and Facebook are banned in some countries such as China and North Korea. In addition, there have been several cases where countries have temporarily banned the use of these sharing platforms. Often this happens as a hasty action against rebellions.
Facebook is ideal for creating events and bringing together large groups of people. So, it can be very useful when you want to organize a protest. Totalitarian regimes, which do not allow resistance, closely monitor social networks and, in some cases, ban them. Of course, we would label this as blatant censorship.
Banning Twitter will often coincide with banning Facebook. Like Facebook, Twitter is sometimes banned or temporarily restricted. Some governments consider Twitter a threat because you can use it to spread insubordinate messages. The reach of your opposition’s opinion can be wide on Twitter, which could threaten your regime.
Anyone can issue take down orders on Twitter. Notably, Twitter reported that 90% of all take down requests come from Turkey. So far, Turkey has not blocked Twitter completely, only temporarily.
While blocking these sites completely is blatant censorship, other cases are a little more complicated. It proved difficult for Facebook and Twitter to check their sites for illegal content, such as hate speech and terrorism. Moreover, the laws are different in every country. Some governments pressured Facebook to take certain pages offline. Usually, these pages conflict with the laws of that country.
You may not view the banning of terrorist pages as censorship because it appears to be for your protection. But imagine that your government defends the kittens and bans them from all social media, do you still think that is reasonable? Understandably, the government’s censorship actions have generated great discussion. Fortunately, we can find a way around social media censorship with a VPN.
In China, where Facebook and Twitter are banned, they created an alternative to these services. The service, called Weibo, is a great sharing platform. However, the Chinese government monitors and censors Weibo. You won’t be able to post everything you want on Weibo. There is a long list of prohibited words and phrases.
So, although it presents itself as an alternative, it actually isn’t. Therefore, if your country offers an alternative to prohibited services, it is always good to check the real freedom that the platform offers.
Censorship on WhatsApp and Skype
Apps like WhatsApp and Skype, which offer easy and free communication, can pose a threat to telecom companies and governments. These applications offer so-called VoIP services. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services are a free form of communication over the Internet.
Governments that block the use of these services often say they do so to protect telecommunications and internet providers. Or the ISP may block these services because they often own the telecommunications company as well. These companies, which you pay to call or text someone, lose a lot of revenue when VoIP services are allowed. In a way, they are artificially keeping companies afloat that would otherwise have collapsed.
There are also governments that restrict the use of Skype and WhatsApp for other reasons. Like the aforementioned social media, Skype and WhatsApp can pose a threat to totalitarian regimes. They are an easy, unsupervised form of communication. For this reason, some countries decide to ban them. In some cases, they allow VoIP service but apply spyware to them to monitor conversations.
For example, in China, you can only download a modified version of Skype. This version contains spyware that allows the Chinese government to monitor chats and check for banned words.
Once again, the Chinese government allowed a Chinese alternative service to take over the market that in many other countries belongs to WhatsApp. This service is called WeChat, and like Weibo, the Chinese government closely monitors it.
Censorship on YouTube
The YouTube block often has a similar motivation to services mentioned above. The freedom to post whatever you want and possibly reach a large audience is a threat to totalitarian regimes.
YouTube also enforces its own censorship. Channels that, according to YouTube, contain ‘malicious’ content are harder to find on the platform. YouTube also removes ads from such videos.
However, on YouTube, there is also the issue of distribution rights. Similar to streaming services like Netflix, YouTube sometimes has to deal with copyright and distributors. Distributors restrict the countries in which a video is shown. You will see a message similar to this:
Strictly speaking, this is not censorship, but you can also get around it with a VPN. Just select a country that will give you access to the video of your choice. You can read more about this process in our article on how to watch American Netflix worldwide.
In addition to censorship on social media, individual websites are also subject to censorship. They can pose a threat to a country’s government or social order. There are many websites that have been banned. We will discuss blocking news sites because this is a major violation of independent journalism.
Censorship on news sites
Blocking news sites is a great danger to freedom of expression. This practice is probably the clearest example of censorship. If a country doesn’t allow independent journalism, it violates freedom of expression. They often block news sites that support the opposition or foreign news sites. Examples of countries where the press is heavily censored are Turkey and Iran.
Fortunately, these news sites can usually be accessed using a VPN. A side effect of governments blocking news sites is that other news sites will pay attention to your content. They censor themselves because they prefer not to be blocked. Thus, there are no independent journalistic vehicles left.
More recently, countries have started blocking “fake news” websites. This is something to watch out for because who can determine what is and isn’t fake news? For example, the EU has created a task force that will check the internet for fake news, especially interested in fake news from Russia.
Fake news can be very dangerous, but censorship can be even more dangerous. While the spread of disinformation is becoming more and more of a problem, we must be on the lookout for governments who block websites with great anxiety.
Censorship on pornographic websites
Pornographic sites are another type of site that suffers a lot of censorship. Some countries do not allow any obscene material on the web. Not all governments and cultures agree on what is obscene and what is not. While one country only bans pornographic websites, another may even ban websites that sell bikinis. To impose a certain set of moral principles on the citizens of their countries, these countries use censorship.
Google will block certain sites if they think it could be described as justifiable censorship. These are pages that violate the law in most countries, such as terrorism and child pornography. However, they clarify that they do not want to help with political censorship. As Google does not respond to every request it receives, some countries decide to block their apps. For example, China currently bans all Google apps.
Use Tor to bypass censorship
Tor (the Onion Router) is an online network that works like an Internet browser. It is used for encrypted and anonymous communication. The Tor network consists of thousands of servers around the world. Tor works with different layers of encryption. Data traffic is broken down into small chunks that are later encrypted and sent through multiple servers before reaching the user.
This process takes some time and for this reason, the Tor browser can be relatively slow. But as slow as it is, it makes sure no one sees what you do online. You can browse the internet anonymously and nobody knows who you are and where you come from. That way, no one can restrict you either.
Tor is a gateway to the so-called “dark web”. There are many sites on the dark web that you cannot visit with a normal browser. People use Tor and the dark web because they don’t find any censorship here.
However, the dark web has a dark side and is often associated with crime. The dark web is unregulated and it is easy to create malware on it. For most people who want to remain anonymous online, a VPN will be an easier, better, and more secure option than Tor.
Tor works like a search engine, which means it can be a solution to circumvent restrictions on services you access through a browser, such as Twitter and YouTube. However, things that operate outside a browser are not affected by Tor.
So, bypassing restrictions in programs like Skype and apps from sites like Twitter and Facebook can only be done with a VPN. Either way, we recommend using a VPN over Tor because of the added benefits of complete freedom, anonymity, and security it offers.
Final Thoughts: How Can I Get Around Online Censorship
Some governments censor online activity. Channels like social media and news sites are a threat to your government. For this reason, these sites, and services are prohibited in some countries.
One way to gain access to these restricted sites is through the use of a VPN. This allows you to change your virtual location. While Tor can be useful for visiting blocked websites, for general internet freedom we recommend a VPN.
Bypass Online Censorship – FAQ
Do you have any questions about how to bypass online censorship? Below we list the most common questions. Just click on the question to see the answer.
How can I bypass Internet censorship?
A VPN can help you bypass online censorship. VPN software encrypts all internet traffic and hides your personal IP address. You can select a server in another country.
The VPN sends your traffic through a server in that country, and you access the internet with that server’s IP address. Sites will think you are accessing from the country you selected. That way, you can easily bypass Internet censorship in your country.
Which countries are subject to online censorship?
In countries with strict regimes like China, Turkey, North Korea and Iran, you see a lot of internet censorship. These countries are known to regularly block websites and social media.
Fortunately, there are ways around these forms of censorship.
What’s the best VPN I can use to bypass online censorship?
We recommend ExpressVPN to bypass Internet censorship. This VPN has excellent security features. Its wide range of servers allows you to access censored content from anywhere in the world.