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When you’re sitting at home, browsing through all the fabulously exciting lives that your friends seem to have on Facebook then you really don’t need to use a proxy server. After all you’re just using a single account and there’s no restrictions or blocks in place stopping you using the site. However not everyone loves Facebook and in certain situations you might not be able to access it. If you’re having trouble using the social networking site then here’s a quick introduction about the various solution you’ll find discussed online.
When Not to Use Facebook Private Proxies
As mentioned, ordinary users don’t really need to use proxy servers to access Facebook. If you use your smart phone or home connection and mostly just use your personal account then there’s really no point in using proxies. Even if your account doesn’t use your real name, unless you want to hide your identity then there’s little benefit hiding your IP address either.
Furthermore people who have been blocked or banned or had their account restricted will not gain any benefit to using a proxy. These blocks will be applied to the account and hiding your IP address will have no effect. Similarly if someone has blocked you or kicked you out of a group, a proxy will not help at all. This is because these restrictions are applied to the account and your network address is immaterial. In these situations, you should simply create a new account and start again.
External Network Facebook Blocks
Now not everyone likes Facebook, for example it’s certainly not popular with employers who see their workers idle away hours on it every week. Many of the larger companies have put in place methods to restrict and block access to Facebook during working hours. If you have a content filter like Websense or Sonicwall then it’s fairly simple to do this, the software is able to intercept requests for the social site and redirect them to an information page. Often these will be lifted during lunchtimes or after core working hours, but that’s normally down to individual corporate policy. In many surveys over 50% of enterprises enforce such restrictions on Facebook and other social sites like Instagram.
You don’t have to use a content filter either, the blocks can be enforced through browser settings, internal proxies and firewalls. These methods are just as effective but don’t allow the granular control of the content filter. So the blocks applied by these methods are normally applied to the whole network for all of the time.
Using a proxy server can help bypass these blocks but the success depends on the methods employed. Here’s a quick summary of the common methods I have encountered used to block access to Facebook.
Content Filters – in the very biggest organisations these will be software installed on large dedicated servers. They will also have access to all the data on the network, either strategically placed next to or on the external gateways or with access to a network tap. The idea is that the content filter is able to access, analyse and potentially block access to specified sites or content. In these circumstance then it’s likely many web sites will be blocked or filtered depending on the organisation’s policies.
Browser Configuration – most browsers can be configured centrally and deployed with these settings. The basic configuration is usually to enforce the corporate proxy or gateway settings specified in the browser. This is to ensure that the computer will not be able to directly access the internet but will have to make requests to the companies internet gateway. This is usually a sensible configuration as it ensures that you can monitor all internet access and ensure that any downloads are checked for viruses and malware. You can also put in blocked or banned URLs which cannot be accessed. In windows environments these are often deployed by Group Policy Objects which can be applied differently to groups of users and computers. If you find the network settings are different depending on what computer you use it’s possible that different GPO’s are being applied.
There are lots of other methods, which are similar or associated to the above two groups. Many firewalls or routers can be configured to process internet rules and can even operate fairly sophisticated white or black lists. A black list for example could contain the URLs of blocked or restricted sites. However these lists can be very difficult to maintain manually on such devices. Another simple and effective method is to use DNS filters which will reroute traffic to blocked sites by using the DNS requests to intercept them.
Many of these methods are now relatively mainstream and indeed many home routers and modems have some or all of even a decent content filter too.
Using a Proxy Server for Bypassing these Blocks
It’s important to remember when and where proxies are useful in these scenarios. As we know the proxy acts as an intermediary server to forward and receive data. It’s main use in bypassing blocks is that it does the following –
- hides the origin IP address
- hides the destination web site
Whether a proxy will help bypass any restrictions depends a lot on the network configuration. Here’s some simple scenarios to help you try and understand the issues involved.
Large corporate network which uses sophisticated content filters which analyses to packet level. Here you’ve potentially got several issues with using a proxy server to access the site. Firstly even though you’re using a proxy server to hide your destination, the content filter will check at packet level then the destination url will be visible as it needs to be passed to the proxy. A simple proxy is pointless here as it does nothing to protect the data being transmitted. The only feasible solution to access Facebook here is to use a VPN service.
This operates in a similar way to a proxy but will also encrypt the connection which means that the destination URL would not be visible. You may still have other issues regarding outbound ports being blocked or that you need to ‘tunnel’ through the corporate proxy. In these scenarios only a sophisticated VPN service like Identity Cloaker which allows you to configure these options will work.
Smaller corporate network which blocks access to Facebook by URL or DNS filters. These would normally only focus on the destination address either the URL or specific IP addresses. In this situation the destination would be effectively hidden (it would be the proxy server’s IP address), so this scenario any simple proxy would probably be sufficient. If the proxy setup screen is inaccessible you would either need to obtain administrator rights or install and use another browser which isn’t locked down. This is a common mistake made on many supposedly secure networks, where the corporate browser is heavily locked down but a new browser is completely accessible.
Facebook Proxies for Marketers
The other common scenario for using proxies with Facebook is not to bypass blocks but to facilitate using it for promotional and marketing services. Many people use Facebook as their primary platform for promoting their services or selling digital and physical products. Often this involves running lots of different accounts and using options like Jarvee to manage them. The major problem with using Facebook in this way is that like all social platforms self promotion is frowned upon. So there’s always the potential for accounts to be suspended or deleted which can potentially take an awful lot of work with them.
So as with most of these sorts of platforms, internet marketers will usually create, manage and promote from a number of accounts all separate from their personal accounts. This minimizes the risk of using automation and promotional tools plus allows people to market more aggressively through Facebook adverts for example. If you get an account deleted it’s not years worth of work lost instantly, something which can actually happen to anyone who falls foul of Facebook’s ever changing guidelines. Unfortunately to create and manage multiple accounts safely you need to do them separately from different IP addresses. Which is where you need proxies in order to facilitate this.
Here the crucial concern is more to do with volume, for important accounts is best to use a distinct IP address to each account. Also it’s much safer to use proxies which are allocated residential IP address something which doesn’t really matter if you’re just using Facebook for social purposes. However for marketers, it’s best to use IP addresses which are classified as being assigned to home users or ones assigned to 3g/4g telecommunication networks.
In these scenarios, you’re actually best signing up to a company that can provide private proxies for Facebook which are rotated and fall into residential IP address ranges. There are several reliable providers in this space but one of our favorites is Storm proxies who can ensure that your IP address is rotated and not being used by other customers concurrently.