A social media ban is when a state or institution blocks or limits access to a social media site. A social media platform is often banned to take away fundamental rights to free speech. It’s estimated that about 5 billion people use social media. However, some countries have entirely blocked certain websites to prevent any communication. This happens during a civic event like an election or a state of emergency.
How can you work around a social media ban?
Use a VPN
One of the main tools you can use is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN enables you to access banned sites by providing an encrypted link to a private network in another country. As a result, it looks like you have logged in from another country.
People often use VPNs to access geo-blocked content. If a streaming service in your country doesn’t have a specific movie or TV show you want to watch but it’s available in another country, you can use a VPN to watch it. The same principle works for social media bans. If you live in a country that frequently bans social media during specific events, download a VPN to use when it happens.
Read Also: Benefits Of VPNs And 5 Free Browder-Based VPNs
Use Internet Archives
You can also use the WayBack Machine to find archived versions of the information you’re looking for. The Internet Archive is a non-profit based in the US. It stores the information from most websites from when they were launched. This is useful, especially when you’re looking for specific details.
Use a translation service
Online translation websites like Google Translate translate websites. Type the link to the website, which appears as a “translated” version. This enables you to access vital information and post as needed.
Some countries may block Google for a more controlled search engine, but other translation websites exist, like BabelFish.
Use a Smart DNS
A smart DNS enables you to get around blocking by slowing internet speed. It also enables you to go around geo-blocked content. It works by routing your Domain Name Server requests (DNS) to a server in an entirely different country. A smart DNS reroutes information about your location. Unfortunately, this doesn’t provide as much security as a VPN. An effective smart DNS is Getflix or KeepSolid.
Use a Free Proxy
This enables you to access a restricted website on a one-time basis. This enables you to hide your location and obscures your IP address. They’re slower than VPNs, so they work better for getting around blocks on work or school networks. Popular free proxies include Hide Me, WhoEr, VPNBook, Dontfilter, FilterBypass, or Privoxy.
Use the website’s IP address
If you know a website’s IP address, you can type it directly into the address bar. You can get the IP address of a website by typing it into Windows Command Prompt as an admin then, followed by the domain name. For example, tracert twitter.com.
The Tor network enables you to access any website without flagging any blocking filters. It doesn’t record where the search request is coming from. This enables you to bypass any social media bans by not showing where the original request is from. However, you should note that governments can still note persons of interest on the network.
Which countries have banned social media?
Countries like North Korea are the most heavily censored in the world. It is also considered the least free country worldwide as of 2021. The populace of North Korea has no internet access. Only top government officials and scientists have access.
China banned all Western social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It started with the Uyghur Muslim protests in 2009. Protestors used Facebook to coordinate their activities. The country also banned privately controlled VPNs. People are only allowed to be on the local social media, Weibo.
Iran also banned social media during the 2009 elections. The ban was lifted, but Iranians are prosecuted when they post sedition or anything criticizing the ruling party and the Islamic faith. Encrypted messaging platforms like Signal are also banned.
Uganda also banned Facebook and WhatsApp. Then the government introduced a social media tax that needs to be paid daily to give users access. During elections, the government carries out a blanket banning on all social media platforms.
Turkey, Bangladesh, and Turkmenistan often ban social media to prevent dissent. The Turkish prime minister banned Twitter in 2014 to hide allegations of corruption against his government. Furthermore, he also claims his enemies use Twitter to undermine his power. Turkey also banned Twitter following the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey in February 2023.
Other countries that have extensively banned social media are Russia, Belarus, Vietnam, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, the UAE, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Cuba.
How do countries enforce social media bans?
Governments can tell Internet Service Providers to block specific social media sites. They can also block satellites. When a country wants to censor specific topics, it can check website traffic and how often words are used. After identifying the words they want banned, they can instruct ISPs to redirect users.
They can also prevent users from being able to search certain words on search engines, even going as far as limiting the search results to what the government wants users to see.
Access to information is a basic human right. Because of this, some may argue that social media is a right. Social media also makes it easier for coordination efforts when locating people lost in the event of a disaster. It provides real-time information relevant to search and rescue operations. Tools have also been used to organise revolutionary efforts. Access to social media may be more critical than ever.
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