Is Facebook illegal in China? - The legalities & How to Unblock Facebook in China

Facebook is blocked in China, so if you want to access Facebook from China, you will need to use a VPN. But it's important to be careful when unblocking Facebook in China because laws around VPN use can differ from region to region in the country. This is why it's vital to use a VPN service that is secure and undetectable by Chinese ISPs or government authorities.

In this guide, we cover the Chinese government's efforts to block Facebook and arm you with the knowledge of how to go about unblocking Facebook from China with a VPN safely and reliably.

 

Is Facebook illegal in China?

Facebook is not illegal in China, it is simply censored by the Chinese government, and access to the site from within the country is blocked by the Great Firewall (GFW). That said, laws can differ in different regions around the country so it's important to be careful when unblocking Facebook from China. If you access Facebook in China and are caught using the platform to disseminate information critical of the Chinese government or post anything that Beijing deems to be counter to the interests of the state, then you can wind up in trouble with the authorities.

In certain cases, unblocking Facebook in China can be dangerous, so you will need to exercise extreme caution when doing so and ensure that your digital privacy is properly safeguarded with a VPN at all times. It is also important to note, though, that only government-approved VPNs are legal to use in China.

But the problem is that any VPN that is approved by the Chinese government is definitely a VPN you want to stay far away from.

This is because there can be little doubt that any government-approved VPN is firmly in Beijing's back pocket. You can't count on your online activity and Facebook use to remain private from government authorities if you use such an app. It is, therefore, essential that you use a VPN that is secure and has the capacity to go unnoticed by authorities, even if it isn't government-approved and technically "illegal” to use in China. 

Why is Facebook blocked in China?

Originally, Facebook was blocked in China in 2009 in response to riots in Xinjiang, when the Chinese government sought to disrupt the lines of communication between independence activists who were using the platform as a vital means of communication during the uprising. Since then, Beijing has been active in blocking Facebook and most other popular social media platforms in its authoritarian quest to crush dissent by cutting off communications channels and censoring platforms where anti-government messaging can be broadcast.

The Chinese government maintains tight control over what internet users can and cannot view online. It uses the GFW to censor any website or online platform that it sees as not aligning with or threatening to the doctrine of the ruling Communist Party. Basically, anything online that is not in the direct interest of the state is heavily censored in China. Facebook is certainly one of the online platforms that the government views as being capable of being used as a means to undermine the state. The social media giant and others are therefore censored and blocked by the GFW and inaccessible in China without a VPN.

The Chinese government also bans Facebook and other platforms so that it can better surveil its populace through citizens' use of WeChat, China's most popular social media and messaging platform. By taking away access to Facebook and other social media sites, residents are forced to use WeChat, which heavily monitors virtually every aspect of its users' daily lives and is obligated by Chinese law to share data with the government. 

What other websites are blocked in China?

In addition to Facebook, many other social media platforms and websites are also blocked in China and censored by the GFW. For example, all Google services are blocked in China, which includes Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube. Other social media and communications platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and Tumblr are also blocked by the GFW.

If you want to know if any other specific sites are currently being censored by the GFW, check out our handy Blocked in China Tool. Simply enter any URL into the field at the top of the page and the tool will check the site and let you know if it is currently blocked in China.

How to unblock Facebook in China

Unblocking Facebook in China is actually incredibly easy. All you'd need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Subscribe to a VPN that works well in China. We recommend ExpressVPN because it's fast, secure, and private.
  2. Download and install the VPN software to your computer or mobile device – you can normally find this on the provider's website.
  3. Log in to the VPN, and go to the VPN's settings and make sure you're using the OpenVPN protocol (the most secure protocol available).
  4. Activate the VPN's kill-switch and obfuscation (stealth) features. This will protect you from government snooping and ensure your internet connection cuts out, should the VPN connection drop for any reason.
  5. Connect to a server located in a country where Facebook isn't blocked (preferably somewhere near China – like Hong Kong – to ensure the best speeds and performance).
  6. Launch Facebook and enjoy the site just like you normally would from outside China! 

Unblock Reddit in China

If you are a Reddit user unable to get their fix in China you will be well aware that the website is blocked in the country. Check out our how to unblock Reddit page for information about how to unblock it.

What VPN should I use to unblock Facebook in China?

The top VPN that we would recommend to use to unblock Facebook in China is ExpressVPN . This VPN is the best of the best and provides all the security and features you need to access Facebook in China. But if you're looking for an option that's a bit more budget-friendly and also works excellently for bypassing the GFW and accessing Facebook from China, you can try Surfshark .

Whichever one you choose to go with, you'll be getting world-class security with military-grade encryption protocols, obfuscation technology (to disguise your VPN traffic as regular internet traffic and go undetected by the GFW), kill-switch functionality, and DNS leak protection. You'll also have access to servers located near China, blazing-fast connection speeds, and 24/7 live chat customer support to get the help you need whenever you need it.

These are all essential features that any quality VPN should have for unblocking Facebook in China.

For more information on these providers and for other excellent VPNs that also work perfectly for getting around the GFW and unblocking Facebook in China, click the button below to check out our guide detailing the best VPNs for China.

10 best VPNs for China

Written by: Attila Tomaschek

Attila is a Hungarian-American currently living in Budapest. Being in the VPN game for over 5 years, along with his acute understanding of the digital privacy space enables him to share his expertise with ProPrivacy readers. Attila has been featured as a privacy expert in press outlets such as Security Week, Silicon Angle, Fox News, Reader’s Digest, The Washington Examiner, Techopedia, Disruptor Daily, DZone, and more. He has also contributed bylines for several online publications like SC Magazine UK, Legal Reader, ITProPortal, BetaNews, and Verdict.

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