Censorship on the Internet is becoming increasingly common. Often this has a political reason. In some countries, certain news websites or social media are blocked because the government does not want citizens to have access to this information. For circumventing this censorship, a VPN connection offers a solution. Follow the steps below:
- Conclude an online subscription with a good VPN provider, such as ExpressVPN.
- Download the VPN software on your smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop.
- Start the VPN and connect to a server in a country where there is no censorship.
- You can now access the blocked content, as your data traffic is redirected through a country where there is no censorship.
You may already know that online censorship is used in countries like China and Turkey. Yet there are many more countries where Internet censorship prevails. A significant number of governments do not tolerate social media and networks such as Facebook and block certain news websites. This ‘online censorship’ usually has to do with restricting your freedom of speech, often for political reasons. We are against this kind of censorship, because it is about curtailing ééone of the most important human rights.
A VPN can help protect these human rights
Because you can virtually change your location with a VPN connection, Internet censorship is quite easy to circumvent. This way, you’ll have access to your favorite platforms again in no time. In this article you will read all about it. We will also show you the best VPNs to bypass internet censorship.
Overcoming internet censorship with a VPN
It can be very annoying if you suffer from internet censorship during your vacation or stay abroad. For example, Facebook, WhatsApp or other social media platforms may be blocked, or a certain website you want to visit may suddenly be unavailable. With a VPN, it is possible to regain access to social media and all your favorite websites. Below we explain exactly how a VPN works.
How does a VPN work?
When you use a VPN connection, your internet traffic is encrypted. You connect through an external server and your IP address remains hidden from others. With a VPN you choose your own virtual location. You can choose from virtual locations all over the world, so that you can easily circumvent geographical blockades. The VPN sends your internet traffic via a server in the country of your choice. This way you can pretend you are in another country, where the blocked websites or services are wél allowed.
- Your virtual location changes because you are not using your own IP address, but the IP address of the server. Websites will accept you based on this IP address and the VPN server you have chosen.
- In addition, a VPN connection has a number of other advantages. It offers you freedom, security and anonymity. Because of your freedom in choosing your online geographic location, you can, for example, watch another country’s Netflix series.
- In contrast to proxies and browser extensions, a good VPN encrypts your data, making it virtually unreadable to hackers and government surveillance programs.
- In addition, a VPN provides anonymity because your own IP address is not visible. This makes it much more difficult for others to trace your internet behavior back to your location or you as a person.
The best VPN’s to bypass blockades and censorship
We’ve compiled a list of the three best VPN’s that can help you master internet censorship. To do so, we selected from our list of best VPN providers and critically filtered for features that help bypass internet censorship.
One difficulty with this is that some countries block websites of VPN providers. This means that from those countries you cannot download and install the VPN. Are you planning to use a VPN connection during your vacation in a country where providers are blocked? Then we recommend you to already install the VPN in your home country! Check out our specific articles on the best VPN’s for China, Russia and Belarus if you want to visit any of these countries.
- We have selected the VPN providers that manage to remain accessible almost everywhere. Another important point is the not-good-money-back guarantee that some VPN providers offer. This allows you to try out their service without hesitation and see if it works in your (vacation) country. In no time at all you will have your freedom of speech back.
- Please note that free VPN providers are often not suitable for circumventing online censorship. Free VPN’s are often not secure and sometimes resell collected data to other parties. Also, free VPN’s often have data and speed limits.
Avoid censorship with ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is an all-round VPN. This VPN provider provides a stable and secure connection wherever you are. ExpressVPN is also very user-friendly. With ééone push of a button, your entire device is already protected. This VPN ensures that your data always remains safe.
- ExpressVPN is slightly more expensive compared to other VPN providers, but you definitely get value for your money. With this premium VPN, you don’t have to worry about online censorship anymore. Accessing Facebook or other blocked social media is no problem at all with this VPN.
- ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try out the service at your leisure.
Avoid censorship with NordVPN
NordVPN is a very good and solid VPN provider that has been one of our top providers for years. NordVPN has many servers located all over the world, so you have numerous options for bypassing online censorship. If you value your online privacy, NordVPN is a great choice.
- The VPN also offers excellent security. With NordVPN, you can access blocked websites from abroad in no time. In addition, this VPN is very suitable for circumventing a Skype blockade, for example.
- NordVPN is also a good choice.
- NordVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to try out the service.
Avoid censorship with Surfshark
Surfshark is premium VPN with a very attractive price. This VPN is very suitable to bypass internet censorship and secure your data. For example, you can use the VPN when you are in a country where WhatsApp is blocked.
- With good speeds and a stable connection, you can anonymously surf the Internet.
- The 30-day money-back guarantee gives you the opportunity to test whether this VPN connection works in your (vacation) country.
Different types of internet censorship
Online censorship is becoming increasingly common. Countries such as China, Turkey, Iran and North Korea are known for blocking access to social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for example, are censored. In addition to censorship of social media, it is also common for countries to block specific websites. Not only citizens of these countries suffer from this, but also travelers can be affected by this censorship. Below we discuss a number of different forms of Internet censorship.
Censorship of social media
Social media is increasingly being censored. Many people see social media as a platform for their thoughts and opinions. It is theé online place for freedom of expression. When it comes to political topics, certain governments see it as a threat. This is because social media is the perfect place to find people with the same thoughts and possibly even form a collective.
- This can be limited to online discussions, but the use of social media can also lead to the mobilization of entire groups of people for an uprising or demonstration. This is why some governments in countries such as China or North Korea have banned Facebook, for example. To quell acute uprisings, social media were also temporarily banned in several other areas in the past.
- Such regimes often follow social media closely. Due to political reasons, they ban these media in their countries, either forever or for a shorter period of time. Below we discuss the different social media and the censorship applied to these channels by different countries.
Censorship of Facebook and Twitter
As discussed above, blocking Facebook and Twitter is often related to political resistance. To combat threats, a (temporary) ban on these social media sometimes follows.
In China, where Facebook and Twitter are banned, they offer an alternative called Weibo. An important note is that the Chinese government reads along on this social platform. When posting messages, citizens must take into account a long list of prohibited words and phrases. Sanctions can follow if you do not comply with these. Although Weibo is presented as an alternative to regular social media, its sincerity is highly debatable.
For more information on censorship of Facebook and how different countries deal with it, you can read this article
Censorship of Whatsapp and Skype
Popular apps such as Whatsapp and Skype are also seen as a threat by a number of governments, again for political reasons. Should a government not want to completely block these so-called ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’services (VoIP), they sometimes link spy software to them.
- This allows a government like China’s to monitor all communications for banned words. Also, China has offered an alternative to Whatsapp, called WeChat. As is the case for Weibo, it is also true for WeChat that communication through this service is intensively monitored by the Chinese government.
- Another group that is also not happy with VoIP services are profitable telecommunications companies. Because VoIP channels allow you to communicate for free over the Internet, they are a gigantic competitor to the telecom industry. After all, telecom companies lose a lot of revenue if you would rather whatsap or Skype for free than text or call over their phone network. Often the state has a financial interest in these telecom companies. This is a second reason why some governments block VoIP services
Censorship of YouTube
The blocking of YouTube is also related to politics. The freedom to post whatever you want and thereby reach a large audience is seen as a threat by certain regimes. YouTube itself also applies censorship. Channels that, according to YouTube, contain ‘harmful’content are made harder to find on the platform. Advertisements accompanying such videos’s are also removed by YouTube.
- In addition, YouTube has to deal with distribution rights. Like Netflix and other streaming services, YouTube also has to deal with copyright. Distributors can make sure that video’s are not shown in certain countries.
- Governments as well as copyright organizations can ensure that certain video’s are not accessible on YouTube. You can circumvent both forms of censorship with a VPN connection. This way you can simply select a country where the video is accessible and then play the video. You can read more about this in our article on watching American Netflix around the world.
In addition to the social media mentioned above, websites sometimes bear the brunt of censorship by political bodies. These include websites that report news, pornography or Google. Google itself also blocks certain sites.
Censorship of news websites
Blocking news websites has a major impact on independent journalism and is therefore a threat to freedom of expression. It is perhaps the most telling example of censorship when a country silences journalists. Often in such cases they block foreign news or local news websites that support the opposition. In Turkey this is largely the case. Fortunately, these sites can be visited tóch from these countries, if you use a VPN connection.
- A very detrimental consequence of this kind of censorship is that authorized news websites will have to be very careful about publishing certain news items. There is then so-called self-censorship, as a result of the censorship imposed by the government. In this way, almost no independent journalistic pieces remain.
- Recently, some countries have started blocking websites with fake news (“fake news”). The EU, for example, has set up a project group to monitor the Internet for fake news, particularly focusing on fake news from Russia. This is something debatable, because who decides what is fake and what is real news? Although the spread of fake news is starting to be a big problem, we should be careful about accepting political bodies that are going to block sites.
Censorship of pornographic websites
Pornographic sites are also often blocked. Indeed, a number of countries do not accept ‘offensive’ imagery on the web. However, not all governments and cultures agree on what the definition of offensive is. That is why one country blocks only pornographic websites, while another country also bans sites that sell bikini’s. So, in order to convey a certain morality to their citizens, governments decide to resort to censorship.
Censorship by and from Google
Not only governments block websites, but also Google sometimes does this. These are web pages that break the law in various countries, such as pages containing terrorism and pornography. Yet Google is clear in its view that it does not cooperate with political censorship. Because Google does not honor all requests, some countries decide to block Google. This applies to China, for example.
Use Tor to bypass censorship
Tor (The Onion Router) is an online network that functions like an internet browser. This allows for secure and anonymous communication. The Tor network consists of thousands of servers around the world. Tor works with several layers of encryption.
- Through various servers, the information eventually reaches the user. This process can take some time and so the Tor browser is relatively slow. This does ensure that no one can see what you are doing online. You can surf the Internet anonymously and no one knows who you are and where you come from. In this way, no one can restrict you either.
- Tor is a gateway to the so-called “dark web”. The dark web contains many sites that you cannot visit through a normal browser. People use Tor and the dark web because they do not experience censorship here.
- The dark web however has a dark side and is often associated with crime. The dark web is totally unregulated and an easy place to pick up malware (viruses, etc.). So it is wise to use the Tor browser with caution and think carefully before entering the dark web – if you want to do so at all.
- For many people who want to remain anonymous online, a VPN is a better, more accessible and more secure option than Tor.
- Tor functions as a search engine, which means it can be a solution for bypassing restrictions on services you access through a browser, such as Twitter and YouTube. However, for things that work outside of a browser, Tor is of no use to you. For example, it’s not possible to bypass Skype blockages with Tor. For this, you really need a VPN. We recommend using a VPN because of the added benefits, freedom, anonymity and security it offers.
Some governments use online censorship because they see social media and news websites as a threat. For this reason, these applications and websites are often banned in these countries. If you try to surf to these platforms, you will not be able to access them. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this censorship. Using a VPN is the most effective and secure way to bypass geographical restrictions. A VPN not only gives you back your online freedom, but also protects your online privacy and freedom.