Choosing the right VPN for Facebook

Absolutely everyone has an opinion about Facebook - it's as infamous as it is synonymous with the concept of social media. We're sharing more of our lives than ever before online, too, potentially with strangers, so it's a good time to reconsider how safe the site actually is.

If you're a woman with a Facebook profile, you'll have probably already seen the sort of harassment that can take place on the site - or even been a victim, yourself. A VPN can't teach manners to all the keyboard-happy cave trolls out there, but the right one can make Facebook a safer place to be - and in this article, I'll take a look at which providers are the best fit for the job.

Facebook app on a mobile phone

What makes Facebook so dangerous?

Facebook isn't entirely safe - it's old news, and a quick Google search is enough to uncover all kinds of breaches, leaks, and a staggering amount of hacks. It's also not surprising to me that women are more likely to have a terrible time on the site. In fact, a survey undertaken by Plan International revealed that almost 60% of women have encountered abusive language and insults on Facebook. I can attest to that personally.

Facebook has also become a grim bastion of sexual abuse, with women exposed to harassment, threats, and cyberstalking - and 70% of cyberstalking victims are women.

These virtual threats have tangible repercussions for the real people behind the screen - the women and girls. Plan International's survey also revealed that over 20% of respondents feared for their safety as a result of online abuse, and that 40% felt their self-esteem and mental wellbeing had been damaged.

It should also not go unmentioned that LGBT women and women of color are often specifically targeted. In fact, more than 60% of women from ethnic minority backgrounds disclosed that they had been targeted by online abuse.

And Facebook has been repeatedly criticized for ignoring reports of harassment. A poll taken by Survation illustrated that more than half of the female respondents did not trust in Facebook's ability to compassionately resolve cases of online abuse, and 72% of women agreed that the site needed to take on additional moderators. Please see my blog on how to handle online harassment for some tips on preventing it.

You might be surprised to learn that Facebook's origins were not rooted in women's safety - or, actually, you might not be surprised at all. Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea for Facebook shortly after creating FaceMash, a website where uni students ranked the attractiveness of female peers via uploaded pictures. Zuckerberg has since vehemently denied that the two sites have any connection, but there's an alienating, emboldened culture of unwanted attention there that definitely still exists in 2021.

Of course, it can be difficult for some women to even access Facebook in the first place. It's not unusual for the site to be blocked if you're at school or work - these places don't want you to waste time watching viral videos, after all.

And, as I mentioned earlier, Facebook can be a hacker's heaven. Just think of how much personal data is stored in those profiles and posts and stories. It's dangerous to assume that your account would never be targeted, either, as hackers are adept at manipulating the site's reputation as a virtual, communal meeting place and collecting data for themselves, and for their own nefarious ends.

How will a VPN for Facebook help?

Okay, so that's a lot to digest! If you're feeling overwhelmed and a bit gloomy, I get it - and I'm right there with you. Until sites like Facebook get their acts together and really pull out all the stops to support their female user base, we'll have to take things into our own hands. A VPN, however, is a great starting point.

A VPN can unblock all kinds of sites and services - it's one of their main selling points, in fact. They're able to bypass geo-restrictions and government-imposed censorship by assigning you a new IP address based in a location where those services aren't blocked. All it takes is a few clicks to connect to the right server in the right location.

But a VPN is also a powerful privacy enhancing tool. They encrypt all of your device's incoming and outgoing data, making it unreadable and undetectable to snoopers - including hackers, advertisers, ISPs, and even the government. Using a VPN means you get to experience the internet just as it was intended to be experienced - freely, securely, and reliably.

My top VPNs for Facebook

There's a million-and-one VPNs out there, and checking them out is a massive time investment - and it can get really confusing, really quick. So, I've put together a list of my top five VPN picks for Facebook. These services come with a bunch of handy features and benefits, but more importantly, your security is their main priority.

A stunning all-rounder with unflinching encryption, blistering speeds, and a ton of reliable features.

  • Pricing

    From $6.67 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

If you've heard of any VPN, it's probably ExpressVPN - a service that consistently sets the benchmark when it comes to security. ExpressVPN opts for AES-256 encryption, which is the same kind used by the US government, and you can take your pick of OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, though ExpressVPN's own Lightway is a neat alternative for folks after a more lightweight and less resource intensive option.


ExpressVPN comes with an automatic kill-switch known as Network Lock, meaning you don't have to worry about your real IP address leaking in the event the VPN connection dies. What's more, ExpressVPN is committed to its no-logs policy, and has even had it audited by a third-party.


Whether you browse Facebook on your PC, laptop, or mobile, it doesn't matter - ExpressVPN has lovely-looking apps for just about all devices, allows for five simultaneous connections, and boasts lightning-fast servers in 94 countries.


I'd definitely recommend taking the service for a test drive with its 30-day money-back guarantee. There's also an expert customer service team available 24/7 if any questions crop up!


Other likes:


A well-known name in the VPN sphere, NordVPN comes packed with utility and all the right security settings.

  • Pricing

    From $3.30 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

A favorite of YouTubers and influencers across the web, NordVPN looks great, is easy to use and install, and doesn’t skimp on security. In fact, it protects your browsing sessions with AES-256 encryption as well as the sturdy OpenVPN protocol (though iOS and Mac clients make use of IKEv2, instead).


I enjoy how easily NordVPN’s kill-switch can be customized, and set to operate at either the system or app level depending on your setup needs. Up to 6 devices can use NordVPN at any one time, and the service has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux systems, as well as Chrome and Firefox extensions.


NordVPN boasts a no-logs policy, and won’t hang on to your connection timestamps, IP addresses, or bandwidth usage - and a third-party of auditors has confirmed these claims! If you want to know more about NordVPN’s policies, or any of its other features, shoot a message to its 24/7 support team, and trial the service for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Other likes:


CyberGhost is a modern-feeling and slick service, with an impressive array of bare-metal servers.

  • Pricing

    From $2.25 - $12.99
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

Ghosties (CyberGhost subscribers) all around the world rave about the provider's industry-standard encryption measures; namely AES 256-bit encryption with OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard protocols. CyberGhost adds another layer of security with an automatic kill-switch that prevents leaks in the event of a dodgy VPN connection.


No matter how you access Facebook, CyberGhost has you covered - with apps available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS devices, as well as easy to install extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers. What's more, up to 7 devices can use CyberGhost at any one time.


Being based in Romania means that CyberGhost isn't obligated to monitor your activity, and it's no-logs policy means the service only knows the bare minimum about you.


It's pretty awesome that CyberGhost has a number of single occupancy bare-metal servers, only accessible to CyberGhost staff, and server locations in 90 countries. You can check them out yourself with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, and count on round-the-clock support from the CyberGhost support staff.


Other likes:


A big-name service that comes with a budget price - Private Internet Access is ideal for beginners, too, thanks to instant setup and installation.

  • Pricing

    From $2.08 - $9.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

Don't discredit Private Internet Access (or PIA) because of that teeny price tag - you'll still get a premium-feeling service and a whole host of features, and robust AES 256-bit encryption, too! PIA has gotten rid of the outdated PPTP protocol to make way for the far more secure OpenVPN and WireGuard alternatives, and the service doesn't keep any traffic logs.


It only takes a few clicks to get PIA installed on any device in the home - PC, laptop, mobile or tablet (to name a few) - and the service offers a very generous 10 simultaneous connections, if you're in a sharing mood. Additionally, a kill-switch is available on most of these platforms, which keeps your original IP nice and secure even if you lose connection to the service.


PIA's network of servers is staggering, with more than 29,000 in 77 countries, so you should never have trouble unblocking Facebook... or anything else, for that matter. Put PIA to the test with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and hop into a live chat with its customer service team if you've got any burning questions.


Other likes:


One of the newer providers on the block, Surfshark goes toe-to-toe with other premium providers when it comes to multi-platform security.

  • Pricing

    From $2.49 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

If you're looking to stay secure on Facebook, Surfshark is a great service that keeps it simple. It offers AES-256 encryption as well as the popular OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Shadowsocks protocols, and a kill-switch - though you'll need to enable it in the VPNs settings, first.


I'm always impressed by Surfshark's unlimited simultaneous connections, meaning you can keep all your devices secure - or share the service with your family - and the VPN can be installed on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS devices, and there are Chrome and Firefox browser extensions, too.


Surfshark's no-logs policy has been independently audited, and the service promises not to track your online activity. What's more, because Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, it's not required to store that data anywhere!


With Surfshark, you can check out its 3,200+ servers with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and be sure to get in touch with its 24/7 customer service team if you're curious about any aspect of its service.


Other likes:


Sounds great! Can I use a free VPN with Facebook?

If you're in dire straits, you could, but it's not something I'd recommend. There's no such thing as a free lunch or a free VPN - there's always going to be a catch or a caveat. A lot of "free" services actually exist as a means to tempt you into purchasing a subscription. They'll offer wimpy encryption and withhold some of the most important security features until you cough up the cash. Worse still, some "free" providers log your data to sell to third-parties, meaning you're paying with your privacy in place of your pennies.

A VPN subscription doesn't have to cost a fortune, though. Check out Private Internet Access for a great budget service.

Want to get a premium service for free?

Take advantage of VPN providers' 30-day money-back guarantees to test a service to its fullest. Then, when your time is up, claim a refund, and test the next service. You'll get the best services without risking your cash, and you can put them through their paces to see which one is the best for you!

 

Other ways to stay safe

Whether you've got a VPN subscription or not, there are some additional things you can do to ensure that you're not putting yourself in undue danger on Facebook. The next time you log on, have a run through of the list below - a bit of preemptive action could save you some massive headaches, and prevent hackers, cyberstalkers, or overeager trolls from targeting you.

Tweak your settings - Facebook has introduced a myriad of security settings over the years, and you'll actually be able to adjust who can view your profile, your content, and your stories in a few clicks. It's also a good idea to limit if other users can find you with your email address or phone number, as well as who can send you a friend request in the first place.

Beware over-sharing

This one might seem a bit counterintuitive, seeing as Facebook is meant to be the place where communities keep one another informed, but hackers make a habit of combing through profiles to collect info. Don't disclose your date of birth or address in your posts or stories, and don't broadcast or announce any upcoming trips to secluded locations.

Review requests

If you're still accepting friend requests from the public, make sure you vet each and every one of them. Don't accept any requests from outright strangers, and take a look at how old the profiles are if you do recognize the name - nasty folks and cybercriminals often whip up new profiles in an attempt to reach people who've blocked them, or to begin harassing them.

Stay password protected

I wouldn't be a privacy advocate if I didn't tell you to make sure that your passwords are all strong and varied! You know the drill; don't use the same password for all your accounts, and make sure you're sprinkling in some special characters and numbers. It's also worth enabling two-factor authentication to ensure that nobody else can login to your profile.

Conclusion

I doubt that any of the info in this article will shock or surprise you if you're a woman - most of us have experienced online abuse before we even knew it was a thing. I remember being in my teens and feeling vulnerable on Facebook, and whilst the site has implemented tools to report harassment and prevent abuse, they're not foolproof.

A VPN isn't a one-stop solution, either. But using one can certainly add to your peace of mind - you'll have a secure, encrypted connection that can make all the difference when it comes to feeling safe on the site. Oh, and VPNs are also incredibly good at unblocking Netflix, so you'll always have something else to do if you need a break.

Written by: Hannah Hart

Originally hailing from Wales, Hannah Hart graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a 1:1 in Creative Writing, going on to work as an Editor across a number of trade magazines. As a professional writer, Hannah has worked across both digital and print media, and is familiar with collating news pieces, in depth reports and producing by lines for international publications. Otherwise, she can be found pouring over a tarot deck or spending more hours than she'll ever admit playing Final Fantasy 14.

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