The video site tops worldwide searches for people looking for ways to circumvent censorship.
You might take YouTube for granted, but in some parts of the world and in some environments (such as school libraries), it’s one of the least accessible websites.
Researchers at NordVPN assessed which sites people were most looking to unblock by using Google’s search-term analysis tools (see the full infographic below). YouTube topped the list worldwide: A huge 82.7 percent of those searching how to unblock online services were trying to access it. YouTube is home to content that is frequently banned in countries with censorship laws, but it’s also a site that’s frequently blocked at schools, which is likely why the US has a high number of searches for unblocking it.
The next most popular sites for unblock searches—Facebook (6.2 percent), Google (5.7 percent), Instagram (1.8 percent), and Reddit (1.5 percent)—were pretty far behind when it came to searches around the world. But the more searches in a given country for unblocking sites, the more likely it is that the people performing those searches are living under a restrictive regime.
The constraints placed upon the internet for residents of China become apparent from unblocking searches performed in that country. From mid-June to mid-July of this year, they tried to figure out how to unblock Google (40.4 percent), YouTube (31.6 percent), Facebook (8.8 percent), Instagram (8.8 percent), and Twitter (7.9 percent).
Daniel Markusson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN, said in a statement released with the survey: “NordVPN observed a huge increase in inquiries from Hong Kong once its new security law was introduced.”
Whether people are trying to get around censorship or protecting their privacy, a VPN is a valuable tool. PCMag has reviewed lots and has a list of top picks.