How to access Facebook in China

Facebook in China

Update – 6/9/10! – All Hail Freegate

After more than a couple months scraping along with proxy sites I’ve managed to get my hands on a professional version of Freegate which performs superbly well in getting you through to Facebook, Twitter, and any other non-adult blocked website from within China. Download the rar file here and hopefully you’ll be surfing Facebook without having to go through loop holes that will leave you with patches of hair missing :) . If your unfamiliar with Freegate and how to use it take a look at my quick introduction below. Let me know if you have any problems!

Tweeking with Tor

Tor is, for those of you that don’t know: “free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.” you can read up on it at TorProject.org. Basically it anonymizes (that might not be a word >.>) your connections by bouncing them around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world. You can download various packing’s of it here – I’m still playing with it and a simple install / connection to the tor network seems to be blocked by China – never fear I’ll update again when I have something concrete to give you about Tor. It is very promising and I’m sure after I’ve jumped through a few loopholes we’ll have another solid option for breaking through the GFWC :) .

Enter the Great Firewall of China

It’s the kind of problem you usually run into in the office place or in your university when the powers at will are seeking to keep you focused on productive things like… not giggling at Facebook pictures. Well for those of you that are unfamiliar its an everyday occurrence for all netizens residing within the boards of good mother China. The blockage of Facebook began several months back after an incident in western China where after some folk decided to write some not-so-agreeable / controversial things about the uprising. A similar event took you tube off the list almost a year ago – for those of you that have a decent memory (unlike me) it had to do with events in Tibet at the time. If your unfortunate enough to have a site hosted in China that would dare host such controversial content (anything anti-chinese government will do – take your pic) the troops will simply parade your business and shut you down no questions asked. Being unable to extend the same courtesy to sites outside their borders they’re solution is to block domains containing said content – for the sake of their o so childlike citizens. Whatever would they do if they were held responsible for deciding for themselves what to believe and what not to!?

Knocking holes in the GFWC

So I’ve been asked time and time again – “hey Dave! How the heck are you getting on facebook in China!” “Hey Dave can you show me how to get on facebook?” or the less common “Can you help me get on facebook I’ll do anything *wink wink*” Ok so I’ve never actually been asked that way but hey I can dream right?. Basically these are the ways I’ve employed over the past year or so.


Freegate – Currently Being Blocked

I’ll let wikipedia take the lead on this one:
Freegate is software that enables internet users from mainland China, Iran, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates, among others, to view websites blocked by their governments. The program takes advantage of a range of open proxies, which allow users to penetrate firewalls used to block web sites.[1] Developer Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT) estimates Freegate has 200,000[1] users. The maintainer and CEO of DIT is Bill Xia.

You can download freegate (OLD) from my server if you would like to play around with it yourself. Interestingly enough it was funded by the US Government… let’s not dig too far in that direction. Anyway you’ll see that I’ve noted in the previous title that this method is currently blocked. Several months back I noticed Freegate was intermittently allowing me uninhibited access – my fears were confirmed shortly thereafter by fellow users I’d brought into the know about this o so useful bit of software. For now I wouldn’t keep your hopes up for this being a reliable source to get through to the other side of the wall but it may be worth holding onto once the big heads behind this nugget find out a way to outwit the knuckleheads behind the great wall here. Just an FYI for those of you with more… single handed browsing needs – pornographic sites are blocked by Freegate as well – sad faces all around I know ;)

Update: There are a few pseudo-Freegate’s floating around that are now working in China. FreeU10 and u96f I’ve been using FreeU10 for the past week with no problems – I recommend giving it a try!! :)

Update 1/18/10 – FreeU10 also is no longer working – I’m going to try paying for Black VPN for a little bit and see how that goes. Getting on Facebook in China for free is becoming more of a dream than a reality to me nowadays :( .

Black VPN – Partially blocked

Black VPN was beta testing for a while and during that period of time they issued free access logins, as far as I know this period has now ended – making it difficult for me to share this method of enabling my fellow web users to access their beloved facebook. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is essentially having your computer log onto another computer somewhere in the world – that isn’t blocked by China – and then using that machines IP to go about accessing the world wide web. Black VPN is one of several open VPNS *cough* well not so open anymore since free beta testers are no longer being recruited. Here’s a short list of some other free VPN’s you may want to try using to provide you with the same GFWC cracking options:AlonWeb, PacketiX.NET, UltraVPN, CyberGhost, and the slightly less popular AceVPN.com, JAP VPN, andAnchorFree Hotspot VPN. You can read a bit more about these free vpn services on this blog article I found.

UPDATE 1/18/10: BlackVPN is no longer free however if you would like to tried their paid service (which I recommend) using this code will give you two extra months for free: QCYVZMB. I believe the fee is 5 Euros for one server or 13 if you would like access to all 3.

Four your reference here’s the procedure for signing up for Black VPN.

  1. Navigate to Black VPN.com and fill out the form as listed in the first picture below (with your own info of course) the Invite Code in the picture will not work as it was discontinued. Hope you can find a new one and share it here if you do!!
  2. You’ll then receive your log in information that I would recommend you copy&paste to a notepad or word file as you like (see 2nd image below – actually the logon listed should work as long as no one else in the world is using it!)
  3. Lastly you’ll need to add a new VPN connection to your computer – the instructions are linked conveniently on the blackvpn website

Image 1

Facebook in China Guide 1

Image 2

Facebook in China Guide 2

I marked this method off as partially blocked because the only server offered by black vpn that has been working lately has been the one located in the Netherlands. I wouldn’t mind much but getting Google results in Dutch does tend to turn my smile upside down after several searches. It constantly reminds me of how aggravating IP sensoring location specific auto language selecting sites tend to make me – I think the world is ready for drop down menu’s to select your language of choice on multilingual sites don’t you? Is it so much to ask for that to be standard? Anyway if you do manage to get one of these Free VPN’s set up correctly you should be readily able to access Facebook and Twitter and Youtube and anything else that is getting moderated by China.

UPDATE 1/18/10 – this path for signing up is no longer valid as Black VPN is no longer free – you’ll have to follow their order flow from their homepage in order to obtain a username and password which you’ll get in an adobe document attached to your follow up e-mail after you process payment through paypal. Again if your signing up use this code to get a couple months free: QCYVZMB

Proxy Servers – Mild degree of maintenance – a little more technical

A step up from proxy sites this tends to be a little bit more technical than simply logging onto a proxy site and browsing through their search bar. I use Foxyproxy with Mozilla Firefox when I dabble with this option. This option requires you to surf the web for free proxy servers (Thanks Google) and copy their IP’s and ports to the proxy handler on your computer. That would typically be your browser in most cases. [Internet Explorer >> Tools >> Internet Options >> Connections] in the case of Internet Explorer. [Tools >> Options >> Advanced >> Connections >> Settings] for Mozilla Firefox. If you don’t already know how to configure your connection in your browser I would suggest finding a nerdier person around you to help you out a bit. If your a little more geeky like me I would heartily suggest picking up FoxyProxy and configuring it to your liking with proxies of your choice. The browser add-on lets you select when to use certain proxies for certain sites allowing you to optimize connection speed while also easily being able to access forbidden sites without having to manually switch proxies when you navigate to them. One way or another setting up a Proxy server correctly on your system should grant you access to Facebook in China.

Proxy Sites – High Maintenance but always a faithful if not tiresome last resort

I won’t bore you with going into any great detail about the various options out there for free VPN sites offering you freedom to surf the web. Basically the idea is very similar to VPN servers. You log onto a site and you are thereafter allowed to use that sites IP to surf the web. You can do a simple search on Google to find a sleu of Proxy site options. The biggest problem with these, hence the labeling of high maintenance, is the fact that they are always being blocked so there is a constant stream of new ones produced daily. There is also the considerable risk that your running your data through a medium that may not be trustworthy. Careful when logging into your banking and other personal/sensitive information carrying sites – more often than not your in the clear but when you do get taken advantage of it’s a nightmare. I would even be slightly concerned with accessing Facebook through these – I’ve been hereing of more and more hacking occurrences. It’s 2nd on the internet in terms of traffic as ranked by Alexa so I suppose we should expect as much :)

That’s all Folks!

Those are the primary channels I’ve used to access Facebook whilst in China. There are more involved ways such as having a remote system in a unmoderated part of the world enabled to accept remote control from your terminal in China. For example having a box in the US that allowed your computer in China to log onto it and use run it remotely. That’s kinda neat the first time you do it but the lag time can become an issue depending on distance and system configurations. More advanced techniques are out there I’m sure but I’m not one to talk about those. Unfortunately like many in my position I’m a jack of all trades – master of none. I’ll look to you geekier folks for guidance beyond these simpler methods :)

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  • http://www.freedur.net lagrande

    I’m using Freedur to access Facebook here in China. I get to surf the web anonymously which is a plus and it doesn’t give me the hassle of using proxy websites (which don’t work more than half the time) and also manually configuring out settings as I’m no computer whiz.

  • karlsandles

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • @.@

    i know i haven’t met you, but i think i love you!

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!

  • http://www.daviddho.com David

    Your very welcome! I’ll be sure to keep this updated as I find out more :)

  • Sharmaine Sublett

    I am a big fan of your site and I read it regularly. Keep up the excellent work!

  • frustratedguy

    I appreciate your blog and what you have done!
    But have you had anyluck with mobile devices and accessing facebook twitter youtube on android and windows mobiel phones? if so how did you do it and how can I do it?

    Thanks a lot

  • http://www.daviddho.com David

    Aye frustrated guy, I’m digging into that a little bit. One work around, at least for twitter is to find someone that is using twitter API to host an access point on a different domain. A friend of mind does this – his site domain… I believe is http://www.tweetroids.com – if you navigate in your phone’s browser to that page and log in there you can see and post through twitter normally.

    As for facebook, I’m getting a little ticked because even Black VPN isn’t allowing me to access facebook right now! Something about the DNS record being requested within China as opposed to after the request has left the GFWC. I’ll have to go through yet another learning curve to arrive at a solution to provide everyone with!

    Thanks for stopping by and I hope further additions to this article will prove useful to you and anyone else having problems getting out of the GFWC… you know like every English speaking person in China :)

  • cpei

    thanks a lot!!!!!

  • frustratedguy

    Thanks again, if I find a solution before you I will be sure to let you know.

  • http://slotman.blogspot.com justinslot

    Do you happen to know if American university VPNs are blocked in China? I have a friend going there in the fall, and that seems like a simple solution for her, rather than fool around with some paid services that may or may not work (and she’s not super-technical, so an academic VPN would be the easiest thing to use. If they work there.)

  • http://www.daviddho.com David

    Hey Justin, They shouldn’t be, thought the best way to find out is of course have someone test it ;) . If I were you I’d dig a bit to see if you can’t find someone to give you specific info about that VPN. Have you tried googling your Uni’s VPN and China and seeing if anything useful pops up – that’s always a good bet. I’m actually not even having luck with my paid VPN getting on Facebook :( . I’ll be updating this post soon once I have another solution figured out. It’s always something!!! If you find out anything interesting in your searching and I think it would be useful to readers I’d be happy to update this post with that info. Cheers!

  • http://slotman.blogspot.com justinslot

    Thanks David–I’ll let you know if I figure anything else out. And please update if you find a Facebook workaround!

  • Gio

    thank you for the site. i tested it and it worked

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  • Brett

    有趣,头次搜到英文的破墙文章,我的经验是VPN,SSH最好用。
    我的方案是SSH+BitviseTunnelier+Chrome+ProxySwitchy。
    当局对Twitter这类服务,正在发愁,他们清楚这挡不住,又担心消化不了。

  • jenny

    hey! i was wondering do you have anything for macs??
    itd be AWESOME if you do
    because I tried downloading to excellent stuff on this article but they werent compatible for my mac…..

  • http://www.daviddho.com David

    You can try to work with the Tor Project Jenny! Unfortunately I’m not very useful when it comes to Macs :( .

  • Giovanni

    I need some help, recently i couldn’t access freegate anymore. I am in China, need some help.

  • Mike

    Freegate is working perfectly in China until recently. Any other options? thanks

  • Giovanni

    Hi Mike, i have updated my freegate to 7.04 and now it already works.

  • http://www.blog.daviddho.com David Ho

    If you upgrade to 7.04 like Giovanni said you should be fine! There is also another program that just came to my attention “Puff the Magic Dragon” that seems to work – I’ll update this post soon :)

  • http://facebook wilo

    i am in china i use FreeU10 to open face book but now no work you have another way to open face book in china ?

    thanks

  • Rajan

    i’m not able to upgrade to 7.04 can someone send me the link to download which work in china

  • http://www.daviddho.com David

    Hey Rajan and Wilo! Sorry I haven’t replied sooner! I’m looking for an updated version of Freegate (7.04+) and i will update the links here and add a note to the entry as soon as I’ve found a good copy! Thanks for taking the time to stop by!

  • will

    Hi dave, big thanks, but how can i use mozilla firefox and link it with freegate?
    can u do a simple write up of a step by step path?since i am no computer geek. I currently have a freegate 7.04, BIG THANKS MAN, reply will be ighly appreciated.

  • http://www.daviddho.com David

    Hey Will – thanks for the comment :)

    From the menu bar navigate to:

    Tools >> Options >> Advanced (tab) >> Connection >> Settings (button) >> Select “Manual Proxy” (radio button)

    and put in the settings in the HTTP: box “127.0.0.1″ port “8580″

    -if you want to use the proxy for EVERYTHING check the “Use this proxy server for all protocols” checkbox

    -remove anything in the “No Proxy for” field (anything you leave here will use your straight connection bypassing the proxy)

    alternatively you can set up a plug in like FoxyProxy (http://getfoxyproxy.org/) that will allow you to automatically switch between the proxy and a straight connection (if you want the browser to use your straight(faster) connection to connect to most places and only use Freegate to get on facebook, twitter, youtube, or whathave you :) – I linked the plugin page above!

  • http://www.violinistxixi.blogspot.com wenxi

    Hello David! The freegate version 7.03 is getting slower and slower recently. :’(
    What should I do? Is there any other way to surf Facebook? Now seems like Tor and Freegate isn’t working much. :’(

  • http://www.blog.daviddho.com David Ho

    Hey Wenxi – I’m going to update the link to Freegate with a newer version! Look for that in the next couple days – sorry I haven’t gotten it up earlier crazy busy over here as usual :)

  • carol

    Is there any other way to access facebook and twitter on my iphone? Tweetroids doesn’t seem to be working too well.

  • ben

    Have u heard about snaptu ? U can access facebook and twitter with this app on ur phone. But i can’t install it on my phone. Seems like the server was blocked recently but some of my friends can still use it ! Because the app was installed before it was blocked. Can u help ?

  • http://www.daviddho.com David

    I’m not familiar with it – I’ll take a look when I get some spare time and let you know anything useful I can glean off of the information that’s available online and through my network here :) . Thanks for taking some time to read through my entry