Is Flickr blocked in China?

Yes, Flickr is currently blocked in mainland China. This block appears to have started in early July, 2014, in an attempt by the Chinese government to block pro-democracy protests occurring in Hong Kong from spreading to mainland China.

Flickr follows suit for other well-known social media and sharing websites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Facebook was one of the first social media sites to hit the chopping block. The Flickr ban is far more recent, but like Facebook, immediately followed protests and uprisings that threatened to spread anti-communist messages.

Tip: You can access Flickr and other sites blocked in China with a VPN. Most VPNs won’t work so select one from this list.

Originally a Canada-based company, Flickr was purchased by Yahoo in 2005, upon which all server data was transferred to the United States. Its location makes it difficult for China to filter the content, making it a much more likely target of outright blocking by Chinese authorities.

China does benefit from the Flickr block. The closest analogues to Flickr in China are the websites YuPoo and TuChong. The website Fotolog, a Western photo sharing website, does work in China. Between these websites and a few other more minor ones, photographers in China have a wide range of photo sharing options beyond Flickr.

How to unblock Flickr in China

Flickr access in China is possible through the use of a VPN. Short for “virtual private network”, a VPN service encrypts your internet traffic and routes that traffic through a remote server. In order to work in China, that remote server should be located in a country outside of China where Flickr is not blocked.

Reputable VPN services usually offer their services through monthly or yearly subscriptions. These services also generally offer a very wide variety of servers to choose from in a large number of locations around the world. Many will also offer unlimited bandwidth, high-level security features and avoid implementing data caps.

However, China has been known to block access to VPN services, both the websites that host the VPNs and the actual VPN connections. We recommend that you look at our list of the best VPNs for China

Additionally, some VPN services are limited in the platforms they cover. We recommend finding a service that will offer both mobile and desktop applications. This will allow you to also utilize Flickr on your mobile device through the Flickr apps.

Our recommendation for a working VPN service is ExpressVPN. This service provides applications for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android and Linux (command line). It’s been known to be highly reliable in China while also offering a large number of international servers, great bandwidth and an easy-to-use interface. There are details of how to get an extra 3 months free service with ExpressVPN if you head over at our review.

After you’ve created your account, all you’ll need to do is download and install the software. Select your preferred VPN location (any country outside of China will do), and connect. You will be able to immediately access Flickr once this process is complete.