We are all pretty used to our creature comforts. One of those comforts is being able to sit down in front of a machine and access the world at large via social media. Its difficult to wind the clock back to a time before such innovations and imagine life without our fb timeline or fb newsfeed or even when photosharing did not exist.
If you are a westerner and you move to China or even go on holiday you may be in for a shock when it comes to using western established social media and networks. You ll find it does not work and even searches may be censored. Trying from the browser will also fail as sites are blocked at source.
Getting round the blockage is far from easy. Perhaps the simplest workaround that people try are sites that anonymize your intended location. So you’d go to one site and browse off to another…the social media site. But you’ll find the same problem everywhere you go and these anonymizer sites are banned as soon as they spring up. You’ll get a day or so at best before being banned.
Here is what you can do:
A. Find alternative networks that aren’t banned such as LinkedIn which worked for us in a number of locations in Shanghai and Beinjing. Granted, LinkedIn might not be the sort of network you want as its more geared to work and career, but its there and you’ll be able to post updates and the like but perhaps not the naughty pictures on the beach while totally drunk out of your mind.
B. Email to update services, where a service takes ordinary email and pushes this to social media. Its not the full experience, but it will easily let messages to the outside world with minimal effort.
C. Virtual Private Network or VPN will get through the firewall by using a connection hosted outside of China. VPNs can be setup on most machines and smartphones with software but you will need to set this up so do read about it in depth. Most likely unless you already have a VPN set up outside of China with a company you’ll need to do this in China which will be more tricky.
One ex pat pays 12$ per month for VPN experience which enables him to access as much social media as he likes without restriction.
In summary you can get the US based social networks in China but to do this you will need to part with some cash or you might be lucky and be part of a university or company VPN where you can access for free. Happy travelling and keep posting.