Friday, January 09, 2015

How to access Facebook in Iran?

Iran is a great country for a holiday, but if you are thinking that all your phone applications and technology needs will work fine, then you are mistaken. Due to the embargo, the government of Iran wants to control all the communication going out of the country. This means that they block Facebook, Twitter, many blogging platforms, many photography hosting platforms, payment gateways and many more. Only Skype, Instagram, Viber and WhatsApp seem to work fine all over the country. Even a lot of websites are blocked. For example, many booking sites will work, but when you complete the payment processing page, your transaction will not go through. Media sites are another casualty. All you will end up seeing is a static page in Persian that you would not understand. And all this in spite of having one of the best internet penetrations in the Middle East.

If you wish to share your photos on your Facebook profile, post updates on Twitter, blog on the move, access booking sites, make international payments online, access your banking sites and use other blocked applications/websites, you need to find a way to bypass the government blocks through a VPN tunnel. Most of the locals use one to connect with the outside world and that is precisely what you would need to do to keep in touch with your family, friends and work.

While there are a lot of VPN tunnels available in the market, not all of them are free and not all of them work properly in Iran. According to me Psiphon, HideMyAss and StrongVPN are the best options. And it is best to download them onto your phone or laptop before arriving into Iran. Personally,  I used the Psiphon mobile app on my Android phone and it worked beautifully on my phone, even though the speed was low and the connection kept disconnecting from time to time. Psiphon is available free of cost, keeps changing its IP address through its intelligent system and tunnels the entire phone, thereby ensuring that your device works like how it would in a normal environment. Through Psiphon, I was able to browse all the sites, pay my bills back home, access Facebook, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Banking Apps and basically my entire phone.  As far as I know, Psiphon is not available on the Apple Store, but there one can use platforms like Hide My Ass, StrongVPN, Express VPN and the likes. These are paid options and I am not aware of free working options for the Apple world.

I hope this post comes in handy to all those who are planning a trip to Iran. Do remember to download and install your VPNs before you land in Iran!!

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