Is it possible to access Facebook in China in 2020? Most people are aware that China censors the internet and blocks a number of different websites including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Gmail and more. There are ways to access Facebook in China, though, and it’s likely a lot easier than you first thought.
While some of us may be able to live without using Google, or any Google-related sites for a while, staying connected via social media is essential.
Unfortunately, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or even Instagram in China are all next to impossible with the internet censorship here affectionately referred to as “The Great Firewall”.
But, fear not!
Despite the technological prowess of China’s cyber-cops, there are ways that you can get around this censorship to use Facebook in China as a traveler or exapt.
Note: this article contains affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will be compensated if you use some of these services I recommend. The good news is that in many cases, such as this link to ExpressVPN, I’ve negotiated special deals to get you 3 months of free service.
Is Facebook Blocked in China?
Yes, Facebook is blocked in China. It was first blocked back in 2016 in order to allow the Chinese government to control how its citizens use western social media.
Even in 2020, the government continues to crack down on access to “western” media and platforms, continuing to make it harder and harder. This includes quite a few websites and apps that are blocked in China.
Despite the fact that China actively blocks Facebook for people within the country, it’s surprising how many Chinese people logon on a daily basis.
The way they can do this is the same way you can as well, which I’ll describe in these three steps.
How to Access Facebook in China (3 Methods)
The easiest, most secure and reliable way of circumventing the Great Firewall to access Facebook in China is by using a VPN or “Virtual Private Network” (here’s an updated list of my recommended VPNs), but you can also trial free and paid proxy sites or download the Tor bundle for browsing.
Method 1: Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
But what is a VPN?
Simply put, a VPN is a way of encrypting your data for purposes of security and masquerading your network so that it looks as though you are somewhere else.
In other words, it’s like a tunnel between your location in China and a server outside of China that isn’t subject to censorship. For a more visual representation of what a VPN is, check out this helpful video on YouTube.
In the case of accessing Facebook in China, VPNs work by creating a secure, encrypted tunnel between your computer in mainland China and a VPN server somewhere else in the world.
This makes it difficult for China’s cyber-police to determine which sites you’re actually visiting (and then block them).
Is a VPN illegal?
The short answer is no, but there is more of a nuanced answer to the question.
The purpose of a VPN is ultimately not bypassing censorship; it is security. They allow enhanced online security and are an important business tool, especially within global corporations.
Choosing Your VPN for China
First things first: it’s going to be very tempting to want to use a free VPN to access Facebook in China. I highly discourage this.
Free VPNs make their money by selling your data, and we often post very personal things on Facebook. For this reason, it’s worth investing a few dollars in a quality VPN.
In this case, a quality VPN for use in China would include the follwoing:
- Money-back Guarantee: Not all VPNs work the same in all parts of China, so I often recommend new visitors sign up for a couple VPN services like ExpressVPN and NordVPN that both offer 30-day money back guarantees. That way, you can see which one works best and get a return on the second.
- Simultaneous Connections: You’re probably going to want to connect a VPN to your phones, computers and even your TV so you can watch Netflix in China. You’ll want multiple simultaneous connections on your VPN plan.
- The Option for a VPN Router: In many cases, it’s easiest in China to just have a WiFi router that is connected to a VPN. That way, any device that connects to that network will have uncensored access to the internet.
Plans available for 1 month, 6 months and a year (with savings!).
One of the most user-friendly VPN apps on the market today.
There are plenty of other good VPNs for China, but if you have to choose two, these are the two I recommend.
Method 2: Using Proxies in China
An alternative way to access blocked sites like Facebook in China is a proxy.
A proxy is a website that is based in a different location that allows you to access other websites through it.
Proxies are generally cheaper than VPN but they are also more prone to being blocked. Despite this, there are still some that find their way through the net.
Web-based proxies don’t require any installation and are just accessed through your normal browser, unlike VPNs which are usually downloaded software.
However, proxies will overload you with ads and are incredibly slow, meaning that it takes forever to load a single Facebook page, let alone post a tweet, comment on a photo or watch a YouTube video.
In short, proxies are an excellent short-term solution for accessing Facebook in China, but nothing that you would want to continue for the long term.
Method 3: Using Tor to Access Facebook in China
Once a fail-safe way to bypass China’s strict censorship to use Facebook, these days the cyber-cops have been cracking down on Tor with a vengeance.
For now, Tor remains one step ahead, and while the main HTTP site is blocked, the Tor bundle can still be downloaded via the HTTPS website.
Tor is a free anonymity network that uses onion routing to encrypt and bounce communications across a global network.
This allows you to bypass firewalls or restrictions, but also considerably slows down connection speeds (worse than a VPN). Ideal for those who want a cheap way to bypass the firewall, Tor does not require any programs to be installed and can be run off a USB drive.
On the other hand, only the Tor browser will bypass the firewall, meaning that you cannot browse on Chrome or Safari, and it is not as secure as other alternatives.
Final Thoughts | Accessing Facebook in China in 2020
While the Great Firewall is a bit of an inconvenience for those traveling or moving to China, it does not mean that you have to sacrifice your old browsing habits.
You will, however, have to look for smarter alternatives to allow you to peruse the internet freely. If you want to use Facebook in China, you’ll need to use a VPN such as NordVPN to grant you access.
Although proxies and Tor are viable options for bypassing the “Great Firewall”, especially as a short-term solution, their lack of security and slow connection speeds make it hard for us to recommend them for long-term usage.
Instead, investing as little as $8 a month in a VPN seems like the smarter and more reliable choice, especially with the option to configure our routers to allow censor-free, secure and reliable browsing on all our devices.