Popular microblogging service Twitter is used by millions of people around the world to exchange views, thoughts, and random updates about daily lives. But it’s this popularity that has also caused some consternation: workplaces, colleges, and schools block it to ensure students concentrate on core tasks. Entire countries restrict access because of Twitter’s potential to organize protests and ensure that the truth sees the light of day.
If you currently face hurdles in accessing Twitter, then your best bet is to use a VPN to unblock the service.
Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN masks your location by encrypting all the traffic flowing to and from your device and tunneling it via an intermediary server. Network administrators, ISPs, and nosy surveillance agencies will find it difficult to monitor you on the web. Hence a VPN is a good choice to help you unblock Twitter.
To help you out we’ve compiled a list of the best VPNs that work with Twitter flawlessly. They’re ranked on the following factors:
- Speed and stability of service
- Large number of server locations in Europe and North America
- Strong encryption parameters so your location remains hidden
- Apps for Android and iOS
- Number of simultaneous connections so you can share with friends and family
- Ease of use
ExpressVPN advertises itself as the “fastest VPN on earth.” While that’s a bold claim to make under any circumstances, it is exceptionally quick, stable, and incorporates military-grade encryption protocols. The company bolsters its standing in the VPN industry with a smooth and minimalistic design that’s aesthetically pleasing and simple enough even for newcomers to understand. I’ve never come across any problems in my months of using the service.
Users have an option to choose from over 1,500 servers spread across 94 countries including a large choice in Europe and North America. When you open the app or desktop client it’ll also offer you a ‘smart location’ setting – that’s the server which ExpressVPN intuitively feels is best suited for you. We don’t think it’ll be a problem for you to unlock Twitter.
Encryption standards are resilient and should ensure your browsing habits stay out of the reach of any malicious entity. The company uses OpenVPN connections encrypted with 256-bit AES as default. 4,096-bit DHE-RSA keys are identified by a SHA-512 hashing algorithm. An internet kill switch is also included. ExpressVPN refers to this feature as a ‘network lock’ – it’ll temporarily halt all web traffic if the connection drops out of the blue. That adds an additional layer of security.
If you’re worried about privacy then rest assured that ExpressVPN doesn’t have much of a data logging policy. The service only stores metadata that helps it understand things like which servers are most popular with users and the time people log on. It won’t record your individual IP address under any circumstances.
One subscription grants access to three devices simultaneously, making it a handy option to split the bill. There are apps for both Android and iOS as well as desktop software for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Here’s our review of ExpressVPN.
3 MONTHS FREE: Get 3 months free here with the ExpressVPN annual plan. The deal includes its 30-day no-quibbles money-back guarantee so you’ll receive a full refund if unsatisfied. The offer represents 49% savings over the monthly plan.
NordVPN is a relative veteran of the VPN business because it’s been around for over a decade. It’ll appeal to power users due to the bevy of customizable options and servers designed for specific purposes. The service gains top points for speed, stability, ease of use, and firm encryption protocols.
It’s similar to IPVanish in the sense that there’s zero customer data retention. This policy has derailed attempts by government agencies to identify Nord users. Servers were also physically confiscated in one case but authorities were left frustrated because there wasn’t any incriminating information on them. Users looking to unblock Twitter for political purposes as well as to stay anonymous on the web should feel reassured.
Encryption standards are top-tier. NordVPN deploys 256-bit AES protocol by default coupled with 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled. A single subscription will allow six devices to connect at one time – that’s very generous and one of the highest on our list. An internet kill switch is also included.
When you sign up you’ll notice that there’s a broad server network totaling 1,118 servers in over 60 countries. The US alone houses 800 and there are further options in Europe and Canada.
There are apps for Android and iOS as well as desktop clients for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
IPVanish is specifically recommended for users looking to benefit from the highest standards of privacy, making it a good fit to unblock Twitter. This doesn’t mean it compromises on speed, though. In our user review the service was able to stream 1080p video without any lag. Overall we gave it a rating of 8/10 coupled with a “great” verdict.
It’s also an example of a completely logless VPN. This indicates IPVanish doesn’t store any activity logs about its users – no timestamps or records about server preferences among other things. Like ExpressVPN, an internet kill switch is included with all paid subscriptions.
When it comes to encryption standards, IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. The latter feature means all past browsing sessions are encrypted forever – even in the unlikely event of a hack.
There’s a robust server network of 850 spread across 60 countries, including plentiful locations in Europe, the US, and Canada. Its simultaneous connection policy is generous – a maximum of five devices are allowed to connect at one time.
There are apps for Android and iOS and a desktop client for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Cyberghost Pro is a relatively inexpensive option that’ll get the job done without giving you the power features packed into some of the other VPN providers on this list. The company is headquartered in Romania and has a stated policy of not storing any user data, so that’s definitely a positive.
At the time of writing Cyberghost Pro operates 1,098 servers in 40 countries. A couple of weeks ago there were only about 30 countries on the list so the provider is clearly upping the ante. We expect this number to keep increasing.
As for encryption standards, Cyberghost Pro uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. These are considered to be resilient so it’s unlikely that your data will ever be exposed. There’s an internet kill switch included, too.
The premium version grants simultaneous access to five devices on a single plan. The provider supports both Android and iOS as well as PC and MacOS.
Read our full review of Cyberghost Pro.
VyprVPN is a bit different to the other providers on this list because of its data logging policy. The company stores “the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time, and total number of bytes used.” This might be troubling for some users but we haven’t noticed any brazen violations of ethics where VyprVPN handed over information to authorities.
Additionally, the company insists that all information is stored only for 30 days and used to improve the product as well as for troubleshooting. VyprVPN also has some of the sturdiest encryption protocols in the industry, so it’s unlikely that your data will be exposed to outside entities in the first place.
Web traffic is secured by the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. An internet kill switch is included by default with all paid subscriptions.
Users can opt to sign up for the Chameleon ™ protocol for an additional fee. This feature further obfuscates your connection and makes it really difficult for your ISP to figure out that you’re using a VPN to scour the web.
There are over 700 servers spread across the globe with the overwhelming majority located in North America and Europe. A single plan allows three devices to connect simultaneously.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as a desktop client for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
Zenmate first established a name for itself in the VPN space due to its free Chrome extension. There’s also an option to upgrade to a paid service that offers a wider server network and better encryption standards – it’s this product that we’re referring to in the mini-review.
Overall, the service is adequate. The initial positives are that the company has an internal policy of not storing any user information or logs and that the connection is fast. We noticed that browsing and video streaming was smooth – even while streaming 1080p video. Unfortunately, there were also a bunch of DNS leaks across various servers. This is troubling from a privacy angle. You do have an option of availing an initial 14-day free trial so it’s possible to test the service and see if it’s a good fit before signing up for the long term.
Premium packages unlock the entire catalog of 1,000 global servers present in 28 countries. There are ample options in Europe and North America but Zenmate doesn’t specify how many servers are present there specifically.
Encryption standards are decent. The provider uses 128-bit AES encryption in conjunction with 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA 256 for authentication. An internet kill switch is included.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as a desktop client for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of Zenmate.
Should I use a free VPN to unblock Twitter?
Free VPNs are a dime a dozen and heavily advertised on the interwebs. Most don’t require credit card details at the time of signup and certainly do their best to appeal to users.
But you should be aware of the fact that such providers offer a mere shadow of the same service parameters that paid options include. There will be things like bandwidth throttling, limited server choices, and data caps. You might also have to wait if there are too many people trying to connect at the same time.
Even if you manage to connect successfully, be prepared for lots of pesky advertisements and migraine-inducing popup windows. Some free VPNs have been caught inserting tracking cookies in browsers, mining user data, and selling it to third-party advertisers. Since we don’t think you’re okay with your private data being exposed, our recommendation is to avoid.
Some VPNs to avoid
When you sign up for a VPN, the first thing you want is the reassurance that your browsing habits and data will remain safe and protected. The last thing you need is for it to be mined and sold for targeted advertising or handed over to government authorities.
Twitter is also used by political activists, whistleblowers, and journalists to communicate with their followers. When it’s blocked, people turn to a VPN – in this situation you want to feel safe and secure and not nervously looking over your shoulder.
Unfortunately, not all VPN companies think it’s as important to protect user data and ensure anonymity. The ones we’ve recommended in our list pass the test, but here’s a few that might not:
Israel-based Hola operated a popular peer-to-peer VPN extension for Chrome which once boasted a massive user base of 50 million. But it chose to disband all this goodwill and turned the community into a massive botnet army.
If you were a Hola user, then it’s likely that a part of your bandwidth was used for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, promoting copyrighted content, and pornography.
2. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield operates a freemium VPN service – you can sign up for free but there are also a number of paid plans that have better service quality levels. It’s been around for awhile too and has built a robust community across the globe.
Unfortunately, in July the Center for Democracy and Technology said the company engaged in “undisclosed and unclear data sharing and traffic redirection with advertising networks”. The advocacy body partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to analyze the service before coming up with said assertions so there’s a high possibility of them being correct.
In layman’s term, this meant that every time the company detected requests for e-commerce domains – such as Macys.com – it deliberately navigated users to affiliate sites instead. Such sites paid Hotspot Shield if a sale went through.
The matter is still pending with the FCC and the regulator hasn’t reached a decision yet. But we believe it’s in your best interests to avoid using the service until it’s able to exonerate itself.
Not all details are clear in this case, but media reports a couple of months ago stated that well-known provider PureVPN collaborated with US law enforcement agencies to help identify Ryan Lin – a PureVPN user accused of harassing an unnamed 24-year-old woman.
Ryan accessed the woman’s Apple iCloud and Google Drive account without her knowledge and proceeded to download sensitive personal information. He then allegedly used it to blackmail her and a bunch of other repugnant acts – logging in to a VPN with the expectation that his identity would be covered.
Law enforcement got involved after the woman complained. They were able to trace the steps back to PureVPN who apparently colluded with the agency and tracked Ryan. PureVPN insists that it didn’t track the content of Ryan’s browsing data and only handed over the source IP address but the company could definitely have been more transparent.
We don’t condone Ryan’s alleged behavior under any circumstances. But we do think that VPN providers need to be open and transparent with users from the outset and stick to their principles.
Should I use Twitter on a VPN?
Twitter and other social media networks were at the forefront of the Arab spring. Revolutionary zeal in countries like Egypt and Tunisia was at its zenith in 2011 – apps like Facebook and Twitter were an important medium of communication for protesters to organize and gather. Authorities tried to clamp down but people were able to find a workaround – with many resorting to VPNs.
If your government is trying to restrict access to Twitter to clamp down on essential speech and the right to protest then your best recourse is to use a VPN. It’s becoming an essential communication tool and a way for people to find out what’s really going on.
Even in emergency situations, many people resort to Twitter to provide updates and seek help for those affected. By using a VPN, you’re escaping restrictions placed on you by your ISP or workplace and not necessarily engaging in any illegal activity.
What do I do if Twitter is blocked in my country?
Currently, Twitter is blocked in North Korea, China, and Iran. Other places like Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, South Korea, UAE, Venezuela, and Russia have placed restrictions on the microblogging service in the past. If you’re affected by this then a VPN can help. Just follow the instructions we’ve outlined in the next section.
How do I use Twitter on a VPN?
1. Decide on a service
We’ve outline what we believe are the six best options for unblocking Twitter but the final decision is yours. Some additional factors to consider are the pricing plans as well as servers in the country you’re most likely to connect from. For a deeper dive into each VPN we recommend you read through the full reviews (links are given at the bottom of each recommendation).
Once you’ve made up your mind all you need to do is sign up and pay.
2. Download the native software
Once the initial registration process is over, your VPN provider will likely send you a confirmation email. It’ll probably include links to the iOS and Android apps as well as the desktop software. Use the links to download the software for your device of choice – we recommend you do so from the official site or relevant app store and not from a third-party hosting service.
Once that’s done, clear the cookies in your browser to remove any old location identifiers and restart your phone/PC.
3. Open the VPN app
Click on the companion app or software after your device has rebooted. Browse through the server locations and try to select a country/location that’s not too far from you geographically and doesn’t have a history of blocking Twitter. You shouldn’t face any problems establishing a solid connection.
4. Use Twitter normally
Wait a few seconds for your VPN to latch on to the server of choice. A successful connection will be indicated by a green notification icon in your system tray or on the top of your smartphone screen. You’re good to go after that!