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How I Access Facebook In China
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So the question of the year is, "How do I access Facebook in China", and there's really only one answer. There's actually a lot of old information out there that you can still find on the first page of Google. Google's searches seem to be a bit behind the times when it comes to the China situation, and there's still Yahoo! Answers up at the frontline, telling people to try free proxies and Freegate to access Facebook in China. A lot of these things don't work any more, and unfortunate, the bloggers and writers who actually living China, are pushed back the outer-regions of Google page 10 with our personal blogs talking about the current Facebook and China relationship.

I access Facebook in China with a VPN, and even then, it can be a bit of a hassle to do so. A VPN is an Internet privacy tool that is used to hide your IP address, and stay hidden from people who may want to trace you on the Internet. Usually it's nothing like government agents trying to track you down because you hacked the pentagon. I imagine that it's people trying to disguise from their ISP that they watch porn and are worried about some "interesting" pop-up ads showing up next time they use the family computer. Anyway, that doesn't really matter. It's a legitimate tool that many normal people use - and it's how I access Facebook in China.

A VPN encrypts and tunnels your data. Again, it's not really important how or why, but it does. It then sends it to a VPN server you designate (provided by the VPN company). In our case, as long as that VPN server is outside The Great Firewall, your ISP in China is not able to block you from accessing the site. It's like a re-direct.

Because of the encryption that happens inside The GFW, your ISP can't block you, and because of your new, non-Chinese IP address provided by the VPN server, they can't stop it from coming in. Proxies used to work in a similar way, but because of the high traffic they received in conjunction to their inferior security features when compared to VPN's, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a proxy that works.

There is no extra hardware for a VPN. There is a monthly fee. There are free VPN services out there but you've usually got to jump through a couple hoops before you can use limited versions of their service. Stuff like helping them advertise on your blog is pretty common. If you haven't got a blog, you're out of luck. Even then, a lot of times they'll restrict your bandwidth, time limit, or type of VPN (PPTP, which is blocked here anyway).

In the end, if you're living here, it's so much easier to have a VPN connection to completely bypass Internet censorship and get unlimited access to everything that's blocked, including Gmail, Youtube, Twitter, and those other random sites that China loves blocking. This is why VPN's are the most popular way for seasoned expats to access Facebook in China.

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