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Use Facebook In China
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Being able to use Facebook in China is something that every expat needs to do. Its nice to think that for the time we're in China we can give up things like Facebook and Youtube, and live a real "Chinese" lifestyle, but the truth is that Facebook is more than just something to play on in our spare time. It's more that uploading pictures and checking our crops, and it's more than a way to tag and poke our friends. It's a way to keep up on the outside world, and keep in touch with friends and family back home. Social Networking is starting to replace things like emails and blogs in the West - it's just too bad that China's a bit behind the game and refuses to catch up. So expats need a way to use Facebook in China and keep up with the outside world.

In previous years anonymous proxies were used to use Facebook in China. These were good because they were free and easily found. I personally hated them, because the free ones would place lots of advertisements on the pages you visited, and eventually they would cut you off and try to make you buy the paid proxy. This worked to check a few status updates, or if you had a specific page you wanted to check out it, this worked alright as well. However, for someone who was going to be here for a long time, this was a very inconvenient and annoying way to use Facebook in China. I found myself hopping from free proxy to free proxy like a leech looking for freebies.

I found out later that free proxies are actually a bad idea because they're pretty easy to set up and you never really know who's hosting the proxy server. A lot of these "hacker" guys are actually all for this "anonymous" Internet thing because they just want to hack others people stuff and not get caught - so I don't use proxies for any reason anymore.

There is something called a VPN however, that works a lot like a proxy does to use Facebook in China. When you type a URL into your browser, the information is made un-crackable and invisible with "tunneling" and "encryption" (which I'm not really sure what it is, but it works) which means that China can't see your computer. It makes your IP address invisible to The Great Firewall. Then you're re-routed to a server outside China's Firewall, and then sent to the site you want to visit (in this case, Facebook). So when you want to use Facebook in China, China's firewall won't block you - they won't even see you.

I prefer this way to use Facebook in China because it's a professional service that I can be sure will protect my information. I make lots of purchases on the Internet from China, and I have passwords from stuff like banks, Paypal, Gmail, and what not stored on my computer so I don't want to risk getting this stuff hacked by some proxy guy. However, I also want to be able to use Facebook in China, so a VPN provides the best of both worlds. Internet Censorship in China is just getting more and more strict, so even if you haven't got a Facebook account, you're going to need something to access Gmail in China - and who knows what will be blocked next?

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