Facebook Restrictions Abroad: How to Bypass Them

Messaging cloud with VPN shield icon in it, Facebook like icon and phone with crossed Wi-Fi icon
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Bypass Facebook Restrictions: A Step-by-Step Guide

Is Facebook banned in your country? If so, the best way to unblock Facebook is to use a VPN service. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Subscribe to a good VPN and create an account. We recommend NordVPN, as it scores highest in speed tests.
  2. Download the VPN software onto your device.
  3. Log in to the VPN software or create an account.
  4. Choose a VPN server in a country where Facebook isn’t blocked, such as the United States.
  5. You are now able to use Facebook. You can also access other services that may be blocked in your country of residence, such as Skype or YouTube.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) let you redirect your internet connection through different servers, plenty of which are located abroad. This means you can use an IP address based in a different city, state, or country. In short, you can access websites and videos that are typically unavailable in your country.

Social media censorship happens across the world, usually for political reasons. Governments block access to Facebook to keep control over the flow of information.

For more information on why Facebook gets censored and for tips on how to get your hands on a VPN — even in places where VPNs are blocked — read our full article below.

Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms in modern history. It has over 2.9 billion monthly users across the globe and has become something of a digital town square: a place where people come together every day to talk, post, share, create, and organize.

Because of its overwhelming popularity, Facebook is a prime target of social media censorship. Many countries restrict or outright ban the use of Facebook and its associated apps: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

So, if you find Facebook banned in your country or if you’re worried that your content is being filtered or monitored, how do you bypass these restrictions?

In this article, we will examine how Facebook censorship works, which countries restrict the platform, and how you can overcome restrictions using technology such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxy websites.


How to Bypass Facebook Restrictions

There are several ways you can bypass censorship on social media, from simply changing your DNS settings to using the Tor Browser. The most effective method by far, however, is to use a VPN service. Below, you can find out how each of these methods might help you bypass restrictions.

Bypass Facebook restrictions with a VPN

VPN shield icon on a dark laptopWherever you are in the world, VPNs are the best option for getting into Facebook. A virtual private network (or VPN) creates an encrypted connection between your computer and a range of servers around the world. This lets you access a website or app as if you were physically in a different country, state, or city.

So if Facebook is blocked in your country, then you can simply use a VPN, connect to a server in a different country, and then be able to open Facebook. This can also work for streaming websites like Netflix or Apple TV.

If you want to use a VPN to gain access to Facebook, you need to make sure you pick the right provider. You need a VPN with stringent security features, especially in places where Facebook is completely banned, so your privacy remains intact.

Below, you can find some of our recommendations.


1. NordVPN: Best overall VPN

Screenshot of NordVPN's homepage

NordVPN is our highest-rated VPN provider. Renowned for its fast and secure service, it has a large number of servers worldwide, offering you a range of options for routing your traffic. With an automatic kill switch, NordVPN takes its customers’ privacy and security very seriously. What’s more, NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that can unblock Netflix.

The reason NordVPN is our number one pick for unblocking Facebook from anywhere is the fact that they offer obfuscated servers. These are servers that manage to hide the fact that you’re using a VPN service. A country that actively pushes back against VPN use won’t be able to detect that you’re connected via an encrypted tunnel. As a result, it’s much easier to access geo-restricted websites, including Facebook.

If you aren’t entirely happy with their service, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Learn more about the service by clicking the button below.

Learn more about NordVPN

2. Surfshark: Affordable, high-quality VPN

Surfshark VPN provider website homepage with added logo to the corner

If you want a premium VPN for a very low price, Surfshark is the way to go. With its strong security options and user-friendly software, this VPN is a cheap yet great alternative to other premium VPNs. It offers excellent connection speeds to its wide range of global servers. Surfshark also uses strong secure protocols, has a clear no-log policy, and is a trusted provider to keep your data safe.

Surfshark is well-known for its unblocking powers regarding streaming services and social networks. Similar to obfuscated servers, Surfshark’s Camouflage Mode makes VPN traffic look like regular data traffic. This is a great way to get around ISP bans on websites like Facebook. The fact that Surfshark is a very affordable option has solidified its spot in our top 3.

Learn more about Surfshark

3. ExpressVPN: Feature-rich VPN

Screenshot of ExpressVPN provider website homepage

ExpressVPN is a VPN with plenty of useful options and features. It’s an established, reliable, and competitive VPN provider with over 3,000 servers.

Like NordVPN and Surfshark, ExpressVPN can make it look like you’re not using a VPN at all, by allowing you to use obfuscated servers. If you’re worried about losing speed, you can always split-tunnel your traffic. This allows you to run your browser through the VPN while the rest of your apps run unprotected.

Learn more about ExpressVPN

Bypass Facebook restrictions by changing your DNS server settings

Often, internet service providers block access to Facebook through its DNS Servers. By changing your preferred DNS server to the Google Public DNS, you might be able to circumvent these restrictions.

To change your DNS server on a Windows PC, go through the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Control Panel.
  2. Go to Network and Internet.
  3. Select “View network status and tasks.”
  4. Select “Change adapter settings.”
  5. Right-click your active connection adapter and select “Properties.”
  6. Right-click the “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)” entry and select “Properties.”
  7. Enable the “Use the following DNS addresses” option and enter 8.8.8.8 as your chosen DNS server address.

Screenshot of Windows menu where you can change your DNS settings

If you want to change your DNS server on a Mac, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Select “System preferences” and click “Network.”
  3. Click which connection you wish to configure, either Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and go to “Advanced.”
  4. Select the DNS tab.
  5. Click “+” to add a new address and enter 8.8.8.8 as your chosen DNS server address.
  6. Select “OK” and then “Apply.”

Screenshot of macOS Wi-Fi Settings

Screenshot of macOS DNS Settings

With a bit of luck, this will be the only thing you need to do to circumvent your government’s restrictions.


Bypass Facebook restrictions using the Tor Network

Laptop with onion iconIf changing your DNS server isn’t sufficient to bypass internet service provider (ISP) restrictions, the Tor browser may be your key to getting back on social media.

The Tor browser works by routing your traffic through several distributed relays around the world. The use of these relays makes it very difficult for governments or ISPs to monitor your activities.

The downside to the Tor browser is that the rerouting of your traffic significantly increases your latency. This slows down your connection and download speed. As a consequence, it can be difficult to use voice chat apps, such as Skype.

Moreover, some countries allow you to go to Facebook but try to make this impossible by throttling your internet. The Tor browser will only slow you down further, making it truly impossible to go on Facebook. This is why using a VPN is still your best bet if you want to circumvent a Facebook ban.


Why Does Facebook Get Restricted?

Censorship is usually a tool of government control. Countries resort to censorship to monitor and control what kind of information their citizens can consume. And so Facebook is often banned because it is a public forum, where all kinds of social, religious, or political thoughts can be found.

It can also be an attempt at self-regulation, such as when Facebook’s algorithm shuts down illegal or inappropriate content.

Censorship by governments

Censorship iconIn countries like Myanmar and Turkey, free speech, news media, and social media have been curtailed to limit people’s access to content that is critical of the regime. In Thailand, this extends to content that defames the royal family. Totalitarian governments, such as those found in Iran or North Korea, go as far as imprisoning people who post disagreeable content on Facebook.

But liberal governments, too, filter or ban content. When it comes to social media censorship, Reporters Without Borders includes countries such as Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom on their “Enemies of the Internet” list. While getting access to Facebook in these places might not be an issue, certain content is deliberately blocked.

Facebook bans can also be religiously motivated. In 2010, the Pakistani government blocked access to Facebook in response to a global online competition to submit drawings of the prophet Muhammad that was hosted on a Facebook page. Under certain Islamic laws, any depiction of the prophet Muhammad is strictly prohibited.

Finally, censorship also applies to content that is considered “inappropriate” or “immoral.” This can include pornography, as well as content related to drugs and alcohol. On social media platforms like Facebook, feminist or LGBTQ+ content is often banned by conservative authorities.

Self-censorship by Facebook

Self censorship iconNational governments aren’t the only actors imposing social media censorship. Platforms like Facebook also engage in self-censorship.

This is not always deliberate. Algorithms tasked to take down illegal content are imperfect. When it comes to the distribution of child pornography or identity theft, A.I. can easily classify these as illegal. However, when it comes to personal expression, the lines are less clear. When does disagreeable expression turn into hate speech? What exactly should be considered disinformation? As a result, Facebook often accidentally takes down perfectly legal content.

Restrictions can also be imposed consciously. Facebook has been caught in several controversial scandals, from deleting content that is critical of the platform to removing images of mothers breastfeeding their babies, even when there’s no nudity in the picture.

On the political front, there’s a vicious cycle of censorship when it comes to “fake news” and disinformation. In an attempt to push back against false narratives, Facebook filters and removes user-generated content at will. This often includes military or state-run content. In response, national governments can punish the platform by banning it altogether.

In general, Facebook’s self-censorship has inspired criticism from human rights organizations concerned about the disappearance of evidence and the limitations to people’s right to information.


How is Facebook Banned or Restricted?

Facebook BlockThere are many ways in which an ISP can block traffic to a particular website.

One of the most common methods is by blocking domains at the domain name system (DNS) level. Individual governments, such as those in Turkey and Iran, use more sophisticated technology such as packet filtering to actively prevent users from accessing prohibited content.

That said, restricting access to Facebook is generally, though not always, part of a wider, more significant effort to limit access to the internet. In countries where the government has a large measure of control over the telecom sector, it’s relatively easy to have Facebook banned.

The governments of countries such as the UAE and Iran exercise strict control over their ISPs. Among other things, ISPs are required to register with the government. ISPs then need a “certificate of activity” to do business.

Once legislation has been passed allowing the government to blacklist certain websites, ISPs are typically required to block their customers from accessing prohibited content. If they fail to comply, they’ll be fined or forced to shut down.


Which Countries Restrict Facebook?

All of the countries listed below have had Facebook banned at one point or another. It’s not an exhaustive list but provides some insight into the different degrees of censorship that exist.

Bangladesh

As a result of internal political unrest, online freedom of expression is very limited in Bangladesh. The Digital Security Act of 2018 is one of the most draconian censorship laws the country has known: it criminalizes various forms of expression and allows the Bangladeshi government to search and arrest people without a warrant.

In 2015, Bangladeshi authorities cut off access to Facebook for an extended period. Since then, the Awami-League-led government has continued to monitor access to Facebook and target users who post “seditious or blasphemous content.”

China

The government-sponsored censorship and surveillance initiative known colloquially as “The Great Firewall of Chinahas blocked access to Facebook since 2009. This initial restriction was put in place after the 2009 Ürümqi riots. The government suggested that the Xinjiang activists were using Facebook to communicate and plan the riots.

Within the Great Firewall initiative, various methods of censorship are used, including filtering, website blocking, and arresting dissidents who discuss politically controversial ideas on social media.

To appease potential foreign investors, access to Facebook is available if you are within the 17-square-mile free-trade zone in Shanghai. Additionally, Facebook is not blocked in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Cuba

In response to anti-government protests in July 2021, Cuban authorities blocked Facebook for several days.

Access to the internet is under tight government control. Private WiFi in homes and businesses was only legalized in 2019. People must obtain a permit, too. Anyone else looking to connect is forced to use licensed internet cafes, where the internet is prohibitively expensive.

Government-owned ISPs routinely use connection speed throttling to restrict access to social media sites, with pages taking several minutes to load. Moreover, the circulation of information that is contrary to “the social interest” is prohibited and authorities partake in electronic surveillance without judicial approval.

Egypt

Egypt initially blocked access to a range of social media websites during the attempted overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in 2011. Since that time, there has been no official blacklisting. In the wake of protests in 2019 and during the COVID-19 crisis, there have been reports of interruptions to the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service of Facebook Messenger.

Additionally, the government regularly uses connection throttling to restrict access to social media and continues to monitor internet usage and communication for reasons of “national security.” In November 2020, an Egyptian video blogger was sentenced to six months in jail for insulting a government official in a Facebook post.

India

Facebook has previously revealed that they censor posts by order of the Indian government. Over several months at the end of 2013, the company removed over 4,000 “unlawful” posts. Since then, social media censorship has only increased.

In 2016, India had Facebook banned in the Kashmir Valley for six months. This came as a response to claims that social media sites were being used by anti-national and anti-social elements backed by the Pakistan Army and Pakistan intelligence agencies.

There have been several other incidences of Facebook being blocked in India, including a three-day ban on Facebook and a range of other social websites during the riots in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh prompted by the arrest of Baba Ram Rahim Sing.

Iran

Iran is one of the few countries that ban Facebook around the clock.

After the disputed 2009 elections, the country had Facebook banned in response to fears that both opposition movements and radical groups were using it to plan events and exchange messages. Access to social media in Iran has been heavily restricted ever since. A large number of websites are blacklisted by the Iranian Government.

In September 2013, the ban was temporarily lifted without any sort of notice. The next day, Facebook was banned again, causing people to suspect the unrestricted access was just a technical glitch.

Israel

The relationship between Israel and Facebook is a controversial one. Facebook has been known to easily comply with Israeli authorities’ orders to ban any internet content deemed an “incitement.”

The platform has received a lot of criticism for banning thousands of accounts belonging to outspoken Palestinian journalists, activists, and civilians. Content that critiques the occupation is flagged as encouraging violence and quickly removed.

In 2021, Human Rights Watch reported that Instagram, which is owned by the same parent company as Facebook, deliberately removed evidence of human rights abuses against Palestinians because they contained “hate speech or symbols.”

Myanmar

Internet access gets restricted often in Myanmar. After the military coup of February 2021, it has become illegal to express political dissent.

For more than 50% of the population, Facebook is the main source of communication. Immediately after the coup, ISPs in Myanmar received an order to block the social network and all of its associated apps, including Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Disruptions and removal of content are common, as are violent punishments for those who dare post critical content online.

North Korea

Unsurprisingly for one of the most secretive and restricted countries in the world, the majority of North Koreans do not have access to the internet. Instead, the totalitarian state operates a heavily restricted intranet, known as the Kwangmyong. A 3G Network is available to foreign visitors. However, its users are heavily monitored and are restricted from accessing the vast majority of websites.

Facebook was blocked in 2016 and has been ever since. Anyone who tries to access the platform without the approval of the authorities is subject to severe punishment.

Pakistan

In 2010, Pakistan had Facebook banned in response to the creation of a page that promoted a global online competition to produce drawings of the prophet Muhammad. Access has since been restored, but the Pakistani government continues to block individual Facebook pages to filter out religious and political content that they deem to be harmful to their citizens.

In 2017, NetBlocks observed a nationwide blocking of Facebook in response to the Tehreek-e-Labaik protests.

Russia

Russian authorities do not approve of anti-Kremlin rhetoric on Facebook. In 2014, they blocked all content supportive of opposition figure Aleksei Navalny.

In the current ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Russia has restricted Facebook once again. On March 4, 2022, NetBlocks reported that the restriction had become “near-total.” In turn, Facebook banned Russian state-sponsored content, creating a stand-off with the Kremlin in an attempt to keep control over the flow of information.

Saudi Arabia

In 2011, new legislation required all online blogs and newspapers in Saudi Arabia to obtain a special license from the Ministry of Information. Surveillance of social media is very common.

Since 2016, Saudi Arabia has blocked Facebook Messenger to “protect” the revenues of traditional telecommunication companies. However, it’s more than likely that the ban is in place because Facebook failed to comply with regulations. The social media site itself is still accessible, though heavily monitored, as is the Facebook app.

Sudan

In 2018, Facebook was banned for 68 days in Sudan following anti-government protests against President Omar al-Bashir. The government also responded by introducing a state of emergency and arresting people. According to NetBlocks, the restriction of Facebook and other social media platforms cost the Sudan economy over $7.5 million a day. After outlawing public demonstrations altogether, the ban on Facebook was lifted.

Syria

Syrian authorities banned Facebook in 2007, claiming the platform inspired attacks against the government. The social media network got unblocked in 2011, but those who criticize officials can still face severe punishment.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has previously reported that pro-Syrian government hackers carry out malware attacks that allow them to install spying software on infected devices and steal Facebook login credentials.

Tajikistan

Since November 2012, Tajikistan has blocked access to Facebook. This restriction was put in place in response to negative comments posted online about President Emomalii Rahmon and other government officials. Since then, the platform has been blocked from time to time.

Turkey

Over the years, Turkey has continuously engaged in social media censorship. For more than one-third of people in Turkey, Facebook is the primary source of information, yet Turkey is one of the top requestors for content removal. Since 2006, over 8,000 Facebook posts have been banned.

Turkey has also put a complete ban on the platform multiple times, denying people access completely.

Vietnam

In May of 2016, the Vietnamese government officially blocked access to Facebook for two weeks to limit communication between groups of protesting students. Although no more official bans have been issued, the internet shutdown observatory NetBlocks has noted several instances in which Facebook was not accessible in Vietnam during times of civil and political unrest.


What If VPN Use is Also Banned?

Prohibited VPN iconSome of the countries that impose censorship on social media are so adamant to restrict access that they’ve banned VPN use, too.

This is the case for countries like China and North Korea. Myanmar, too, for example, has recently made VPN use punishable by law. In Russia, using a VPN is not illegal, but websites belonging to VPN providers are blacklisted. This is why it’s always useful to be aware of local legislation.

If you want to use a VPN but you’re unable to access one, here’s what you can do:

  • Use the built-in VPN that’s part of the Opera browser. You can then connect the VPN to a country from which you can access a premium website, like NordVPN or Surfshark, and download the VPN app.
  • Use a free VPN that’s not banned. We’ve made a list of your best options for a free VPN. However, because free VPNs have some disadvantages such as having a bandwidth limit, we recommend you use the free VPN to find a premium one.
  • Download VPN software through a third-party platform like Softpedia. This is recommended if VPN websites are blocked. Create a free account on Softpedia and download a VPN, such as Windscribe. You can then use Windscribe to get your hands on a premium VPN.

Bypass Facebook Restrictions Today

For many people, social media platforms like Facebook are the primary way to access information and stay in touch with others. Blocking or filtering access to the platform can be seriously harmful, yet many countries around the world continue to do so for various political, social, and religious reasons. On top of that, tech companies deliberately censor user-generated content on their platforms.

Getting around social media censorship isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. Reconfiguring your DNS server to the Google Public DNS server can get you around lightweight bans. However, for more pervasive filtering, you’ll need to make use of the Tor Browser or a VPN service.

While the Tor browser is an excellent option for anonymity, it can slow down your traffic significantly. This is why using a VPN service to connect to Facebook is the best course of action.

For many people across the world, VPN use is a common practice. VPNs are easy to install, easy to use, and come with a range of benefits that go beyond just allowing you access to blocked websites. Using a VPN service makes you less vulnerable to cyberattacks and keeps your data perfectly private.

Whether you just want to log back into Facebook or also enjoy other benefits such as watching Netflix from overseas or using TikTok wherever you are, a VPN can help you out.

Bypassing Facebook Restrictions: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about circumventing Facebook restrictions in countries where the social network is bocked? Take a look at our FAQ below and click on a question to see the answer.

Facebook is banned by governments for political, social, and religious reasons. Countries like China and Iran have total bans on Facebook. In places like Russia, Facebook gets banned for long periods at a time to stop citizens from accessing political ideas that are deemed a threat to national security. You can read more about Facebook blocks in our “Facebook Restrictions Worldwide” article.

The best way to connect to Facebook in places where it’s censored is to use a VPN service. Once you are connected to a server in another country, websites will see the IP address of the server you’re connected in (instead of your real IP address). Digitally, you are now located somewhere else. Pick a country where Facebook is not restricted, and you’re back on the social network.

We recommend NordVPN for accessing Facebook in places where the website and app are blocked. This is a very good and fast VPN that will provide you with more online freedom, as well as more privacy and safety on the internet.

Author
Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. She has broad experience developing rigorous VPN testing procedures and protocols for our VPN review section and has tested dozens of VPNs over the years.
Contributor
Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. She has broad experience developing rigorous VPN testing procedures and protocols for our VPN review section and has tested dozens of VPNs over the years.