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No Facebook In China
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As a warning to all Facebook members (is there anyone who doesn't have a Facebook account?) that are coming to China - there is no Facebook in China. It's strange for me to think that there is still a world out there that has free access to Facebook. I've been in China way too long. I recently had a sister of a friend visit and I was shocked that she was having such a hard time away from her Facebook account. I've been here for so long that I've just gotten used to the fact that there is no Facebook in China without access to a virtual private network

I came to China in 2007 and Facebook was already blocked - kind of. In 2007 it had already been officially blocked but you could still get around the firewall by changing a few things about the way you accessed the site. Usually if you used Google in a tricky enough way you could access certain pages and get on Facebook long enough to update your stats and check out what friends were doing. It was pretty much impossible to play games and do much else, but at least you could check your account.

The case is not the same today. There is definitely no Facebook in China now. Even with a IP changing too like a VPN or a proxy, a lot of times you can't use the Facebook site. There are a few reasons why this happens.

A VPN is an IP address changing tool. Proxies are similar but not as secure. I wouldn't recommend them for two reasons. They're easy to hack and monitor (by government and hackers), and most of the good ones are blocked anyway. VPN's are not the same case. The reason The Great Firewall can block you from Facebook is because of your IP address. With a VPN you can encrypt your information and re-route it to a VPN server outside The Firewall. This is how many expats access Facebook in China.

However there are a few instances when even this won't work. Most are easy to fix. You may have some information stored in your browser cookies that are giving away your IP and causing you to have no Facebook in China, once again. For example, if you access the Gmail site, get blocked, connect to the VPN and then immediately try to access the site again, you'll still get rejected. Cookies may store some data about IP address or Internet activity and this can tip off your Chinese ISP as to your real location. Don't worry, kung-fu Internet policemen aren't going to kick down your door if they know you're going to access your Facebook account from "inside the wall", but they will block you. If this is the reason you still have no Facebook in China, it can be fixed by clearing your browser cookies.

Another thing China's censors may do to make sure there is no Facebook in China even with IP changing tools like VPN's and proxies is called DNS cache poisoning. You may get affected by this if you try to access a blocked site without the VPN, and then with the VPN. DNS stands for domain name server and it stores information about your IP there. When they poison you DNS, it means that they will make your computer read URL's wrong. When you type a URL into your browser, it uses letters and numbers so its easier to read and understand, but in reality, its code for the IP address of the site you want to see. When your DNS get poisoned, it means that false data is being sent and received. You may type in the Facebook URL, but the IP it returns is false because your DNS has been poisoned. This can be taken care of by typing ipconfig/flushdns into the command prompt area of your PC. This will clear you DNS cache and any poisoning that has take place.

Even though there are some issues with virtual private networks, a VPN is China is by far the safest, fastest, and most reliable tool to solve the "no Facebook in China" blues. Don't hold your breath for the supposed Chinese version of Facebook rumored to come out in 2011, it most likely won't have much to do with our western version.


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