As of April 2017, YouTube is the second most popular website in the world. The most popular website, incidentally, should be no surprise to you: YouTube’s owners Google. But with great popularity comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes overwhelming government suppression.
Yes, the unfortunate truth is that more content is blocked on YouTube than almost any other website. This happens for a range of reasons. There are the more innocuous cases, where content is blocked because of copyright restrictions based on geolocation. Of course, you might not be able to access content because you’re using a school or work network that has its own restrictions. And then there are the governments who block YouTube content because it contains ideas they don’t like or criticism of the government or politicians.
In order to unblock YouTube videos, you have a couple of options. Using a VPN or proxy.
VPN vs Proxy
Proxies are generally perfectly capable of unblocking YouTube content. Unlike streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, YouTube has not made much effort to block access from people using proxies to get around geolocation based restrictions.
And if you’re viewing innocuous content like fail videos or TED talks, a proxy should be just fine. They’re generally cheaper than VPNs. They work by redirecting internet traffic through a remote server, acting like you’re in another location where the content may be viewed.
However, proxies do not encrypt your data. And if you’re viewing content blocked by your government because it’s considered a threat, you won’t want to take the risk of your data being surveilled.
A VPN is, therefore, a better choice, as it securely encrypts all your internet activity, including any communications between other applications and not just your internet browser. Although it works in a similar way to a proxy – by masking your IP address and location – it is far more secure. You can use a VPN to watch government restricted content without the threat of being caught and getting in trouble with the law.
How to use a VPN
Using a VPN is simple. You just have to follow the instructions given to you by your VPN provider. It’s choosing a provider that is more difficult. There are a number of factors you need to take into consideration when choosing a provider.
The first is obviously safety. You need to make sure that the provider protects your data from prying eyes and do not keep it themselves. If they do, you are still not safe.
The next consideration is probably price. There are free VPN services available, although they come with limitations, such as small data allowances. Some, however, are cheaper than others, and doing the requisite research will help you find the most cost effective.
Ultimately, whichever VPN you choose, you’re safer with it than without it. They’ll all give you access to whatever YouTube content you choose to watch, from innocent cat videos to government protests.