In this article, I look at the best VPNs for Facebook and Facebook Messennger in 2017. When it comes to privacy, Facebook is a terrible and evil monster. In fact, if you care about privacy then you should delete your Facebook account immediately, hide out in some hills somewhere, and hoard cans of baked beans. I really mean this.
The Best VPNs for Facebook
Still here? For most of us (over 1.5 billion in fact!), the reality is that Facebook has become an essential part of our daily lives. It provides an unparalleled platform for sharing photos with friends and family, organizing events, keeping up with old and distant friends, and much more. Indeed, for many people, the internet is Facebook!
In other words, privacy be damned! We are not willing to sacrifice our Facebook.
So the next issue becomes access to Facebook. In many parts of the world, access is blocked by repressive governments. These are opposed to the free exchange of ideas that Facebook enables across geographical and political boundaries.
Schools, colleges, and workplaces also regularly block Facebook because it distracts pupils and employees from their work!
Regardless of why Facebook is banned, using VPNs for Facebook is almost certainly the best way to overcome these blocks.
Best VPNs for Facebook: Summary
|1||ExpressVPN review||$6.67 / month||Visit Site|
|2||AirVPN review||$4.82 / month||Visit Site|
|3||BolehVPN review||$6.67 / month||Visit Site|
|4||VPNArea review||$4.92 / month||Visit Site|
|5||CyberGhost review||$2.90 / month||Visit Site|
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No usage logs
- Servers in 78 countries
- Great customer service
- P2P: yes
- Connection logs
- A bit pricey
ExpressVPN is a great choice for unblocking Facebook. This is because ExpressVPN operates severs in a massive 78 countries worldwide, offers fantastic connection speeds, and its desktop and mobile software is very easy to use. These apps are very fully featured, use great encryption, and include DNS leak protection and a kill switch. Users are also protected from WebRTC leaks.
And when it comes to customer service, ExpressVPN is an industry leader. It offers a no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 live chat support. Facebook users in China will also appreciate its Hong Kong-based “stealth” servers and dark web (.onion) address.
Additional features include three simultaneous connections, DNS leak and WebRTC protection, and free SmartDNS.
- Open source with DNS leak protection and kill switch
- No logs (at all)
- VPN through Tor
- Accepts bitcoin
- P2P: yes
- Techy-ness puts people off
- Customer support could be better
- Limited number of servers worldwide
This Italian VPN company was established by pro-freedom activists and hacktivists. These roots are evident in both its strengths and its weaknesses. One thing we noticed when reviewing AirVPN is they’re very serious about protecting their customers’ privacy, and back this ethic up with some of the most sophisticated software on the market. AirVPN uses very strong encryption, permits VPN obfuscation using SSH and SSL tunneling, supports anonymous VPN use via VPN through Tor, and allows port forwarding. Its open source VPN client (“Eddie”) also offers a firewall-based kill switch, DNS leak protection, port selection, and more.
The flip-side is that AirVPN is not very newbie-friendly, and its customer service is good at alienating users (despite being very technically competent).
Additional features: real-time user and server statistics, a three-day free trial, and three simultaneous connections.
- No logs at all
- “xCloak” stealth servers
- Client with VPN kills switch and DNS leak protection
- VPN over Tor
- Smart DNS included
- Somewhat techy and bare-bones
On paper, BolehVPN operates out of the Seychelles, but in practice it is based in Malaysia. It keeps no logs at all, and much like AirVPN, it provides a service that emphasizes privacy and technical know-how over customer care. Its Windows and OSX software is excellent, and features a VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection. It also offers VPN through Tor for true anonymity.
BolehVPN also offers “xCloak” servers designed to bypass government censorship (most notably in China).
- No logs at all
- Five simultaneous devices
- Accepts bitcoin
- Seven-day money-back guarantee
- P2P: yes
- Not much
This small VPN provider is based in Bulgaria, but stores its data in Switzerland. It features a seven-day free trial, fantastic connection speeds, and has among the most friendly and helpful support I have come across. Its desktop client is a custom version of Viscocity, and offers DNS leak protection, disables IPv6, and provides a per-app kill switch. The auto IP feature changes your IP every five minutes, which is interesting. In addition, VPNArea accepts payment in bitcoin.
- No logs at all
- Good free service
- 14 (monthly) or 30 (yearly) day money-back guarantee
- Based in Romania
- Good software
- Multiple simultaneous connections only allowed on most expensive plan
- Finding a fast server can be pain
This high-profile VPN provider is based in Romania. It keeps no logs, allows BitTorrent downloading, and has a great Windows VPN client with lots of features, including an internet kill switch. The 30-day money-back guarantee is also very generous (for yearly customers, monthly purchases come with a 14-day money-back guarantee instead).
It also offers a very good (if understandably limited) free service. This is certainly good enough if all you want to do is access Facebook. Server performance, however, can vary wildly, so some trial and error is often needed to find a fast one.
Additional features: accepts bitcoins, permits P2P.
VPNs for Facebook: Considerations
How VPNs for Facebook Work
Normally, when you connect to the internet, you first connect to your internet service provider (ISP), which then connects you to Facebook (for example). All your internet traffic passes through your ISP’s servers, and can be viewed by your ISP.
When using a VPN, however, you connect to a server run by your VPN provider (a “VPN server”) via an encrypted connection (sometimes referred to as a “VPN tunnel”). This means that all data traveling between your computer and the VPN server is encrypted so that only you and the VPN server can “see” it.
Thus neither your ISP nor any anyone else who monitors the traffic between your computer (or tablet or smartphone) and the internet can see what you get up to online. This includes visiting Facebook.
Governments That Censor Facebook
Many governments block Facebook because they do not like the unfettered ability that Facebook gives their citizens to discuss dissenting views and exchange ideas with a friendship network unbound by geographic borders, dogmatic religious prescription, restrictive social mores, or political orthodoxy.
In other words, they see Facebook as a threat to their power. The key role that Facebook played in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings has only confirmed this perception.
Having said that, Facebook is not a safe platform on which to foment political dissent. Police and national security services regularly monitor posts on public Facebook groups, and use assumed identities to join closed groups or insinuate themselves into the friends lists of subjects of interest to them.
And although Facebook probably won’t hand over your details to a repressive government, it is probably best not to assume this is the case.
The following countries censor access to Facebook. Note that this information is as accurate as I can find as of December 2016, but I do not live in these countries nor speak their languages, so things might be different on the ground.
Facebook is completely blocked in mainland China. Or at least that is the theory. Inconsistencies in how the Great Firewall is implemented actually mean that in practice it might be available in some locations, and at different times. For the vast majority of China’s citizens this is not a major issue, as the home-grown 51.com, renren and 开心网 (Kaixin001) social networks are much more popular.
That said, there are an estimated half a million Facebook users in China. And expats and visitors to China are usually keen to access the social media service. For more detailed information on how to access Facebook from China, please check out 5 Best VPNs for China and How to Access Facebook in China.
It is also worth noting that Facebook is not censored in Hong Kong.
As far as I can determine, Facebook remains banned in Iran. Until 2007 various efforts were made by the government to block Facebook. But these do not seem to have been very effective. This ban was more rigorously enforced in advance of the 2009 elections, but was relaxed again following heavy criticism, before being reintroduced yet again. So it is entirely possible that the situation has changed again as I write this!
To the best of my knowledge, however, the Iranian government continues to deploy specially trained “cyberpolice units.” These are tasked with tracking down visitors to banned websites, including Facebook.
Alarmingly, I have heard reports of desperate Iranians turning to local VPN providers in order to hide their online activities. Unfortunately, although these are cheap, many appear to be government-run honeypots.
Those caught trying to evade the government’s bans face arrest, interrogation, torture, jail and even death. Although I do not usually like giving in to this kind of intimidation, I strongly suggest that anyone in Iran think carefully before using a VPN (or other method) to access banned content.
If you do consider the risk to be worth taking, then use a foreign VPN provider (one based in Europe is probably your best option) and use overseas VPN servers.
In a world full of oppressive regimes, North Korea is the most repressive of all. The vast majority of the population has no internet access at all. China supplies some broadband lines to North Korea, so a few selected government and party officials probably do have limited access to the internet. It is very unlikely, however, that these are permitted to use this access to peruse Facebook.
Reliable information about internet access in this divided and war-ravaged country is understandably difficult to find. Network infrastructure is unlikely to be operational in war zones, although it is possible that some limited mobile network access is available. Regardless, people in war zones will have other concerns than accessing Facebook.
In areas controlled by ISIS or other rebel groups… who knows? Internet access is probably not available, but if it is, then I would advocate extreme caution. I do not support the notion of self-censorship as a rule, but if getting caught accessing Facebook (with or without a VPN) might get you beheaded or your hands chopped off, then discretion may be the better part of valor!
Areas controlled by the Syrian government probably do have access to the internet. But access to Facebook is firmly banned. I have no idea whether, in the current chaos, the government has any effective means of enforcing this ban. But a VPN should be an effective way to overcome it anyway.
Much like in China, Vietnam is controlled by an oligarchic elite, masquerading as a “Communist Party.” Its system of internet censorship is nowhere near as sophisticated as the Great Firewall, but is still very real.
Facebook is “unofficially” banned, but nevertheless appears to be widely available to home users. This probably accounts for the fact that, despite the ban, 13.5 million Vietnamese people (around 15% of the population) use Facebook.
Many hotels and internet cafes have installed VPN software to bypass the ban. Visitors should beware, however, the fact that these computers are often heavily infected by viruses and other malware. Check out 5 Best VPNs for Vietnam for further discussion on this subject.
Accessing Facebook from School and Work
It is, of course, not just governments that block Facebook. For some strange reason, schools, colleges, offices and suchlike, prefer students and employees to work rather than spending their days updating their Facebook status, watching cat videos, and playing Candy Crash Saga!
A few years ago, some evidence appeared suggesting that being able to access Facebook at work improved productivity. But this by-and-large did not go down well, and Facebook remains commonly blocked by educational institutions and corporations of all sizes.
By far the easiest way to evade such blocks is simply to access Facebook on your smartphone, using your mobile data plan rather than the school/office WiFi. If you wish to piggyback the free WiFi, however, using a VPN should get the job done.
It is worth noting that more and more institutions are wising up to VPNs, and it is increasingly common to find VPNs blocked. Please check out our How to Bypass VPN Blocks guide for guidance on how to get around these restrictions.
Facebook Messenger was originally known as Facebook Chat. Facebook launched it in 2008. It then revamped the chat system in 2010, turning it into a standalone app. As it’s a stablemate of both Facebook and WhatsApp, angry governments often slap Facebook Messenger with bans. Facebook Messenger is banned in several countries because it is included in a blanket ban on Facebook.
China, Iran, and North Korea are the only countries that have a permanent ban on Facebook. However, many other countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Syria, Egypt, and Turkey, periodically block social media sites and messaging systems during politically sensitive events. Saudi Arabia has a permanent ban on Facebook Messenger, but not on Facebook. The ban is inspired by the Saudi government’s desire to protect the income stream of its state-owned telephone company.
Facebook Messenger keeps evolving. It has recently added a layer of encryption that matches that of its fellow Facebook messaging system, WhatsApp. Facebook Messenger launched “Secret Conversations” in October 2016. That service adds end-to-end encryption to conversations, using the Signal protocol. This is currently an optional feature, but Facebook may well introduce it as standard in time. Ironically, that extra layer of security could make Facebook Messenger more dangerous to use. It is strong encryption provided by the Signal protocol that helped WhatsApp become the most banned app in the world in 2016.
You can expect access to Facebook Messenger to be tricky in a growing number of countries over the coming years. Thankfully, you can circumvent the bans by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). You can find out how VPNs work and what they do to get Facebook Messenger traffic through all blocks further down in this report. First, though, take a look at our list of the five best VPNs for Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Messenger Blocks
There are several reasons why governments block Facebook Messenger. Saudi Arabia and several other countries ban messenger systems because they compete with their state-owned telephone companies. The enforcement of state telecommunication monopolies led to a long list of countries banning WhatsApp, including Kenya, the UAE, and Nigeria. It likely won’t be long before those countries block Facebook Messenger as well.
The addition of stronger encryption is likely to mean that Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, Bahrain, and Brazil all ban the app soon. In India and South Africa, lavish gifts and treats from private telco operators for judges and legislators aided the process of WhatsApp being banned. Similar blocks on Facebook Messenger are bound to be on the cards.
It’s just a question of time before those countries that already ban WhatsApp also ban Facebook Messenger.
VPNs for Facebook Messenger
Blocks on Facebook Messenger are relatively easy to accomplish. They are usually carried out by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) at the behest of the government. This is the most logical location for access controls. ISPs just have to add a little price of code to the producers of their internet gateway computers in order to stop contact with the Facebook authentication server. More sophisticated checks are possible, but simply stopping people from logging in is a way to implement the block with very little effort.
A VPN carries every packet of information from your computer through to the VPN server. On that journey, the regular communication data packets are put inside carrier packets. Those outer packets are addressed to the VPN server rather than the Facebook Messenger computer. Thus, the address checking programs on the gateway computers let those packets through.
VPNs can also prevent more complicated scans of packet data, because the original packet is entirely encrypted. The encryption used by the OpenVPN system is exactly the same as the security measures used by the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure system. HTTPS is used by webpages to protect log-in credentials and credit card details. No government would block HTTPS traffic, because that would kill off local eCommerce businesses.
Governments and ISPs know that VPNs thwart their access control attempts. Thus, in places such as Iran and China, ISPs also drop any VPN traffic that they detect.
When you look for a VPN for Facebook Messenger, be sure that you get a system that can not only get through inspection procedures by ISPs, but can also beat scrutiny by specialist programs that search for VPN traffic.
VPNs for Facebook: Conclusion
Facebook is the spawn of the devil when it comes to privacy. But it is as popular as it is for a reason. If access to Facebook is blocked, then VPNs for Facebook are the best way to unblock it. Just be sure to check out my Ultimate Online Privacy Guide for some tips on maintaining a modicum of privacy while using the service.