In our new GWI Social report (download a free summary here), we discuss the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Proxy Servers as a way to access restricted social networks.

This trend is most pronounced in fast-growth markets, with a notable peak in APAC; as the chart below shows, it’s Indonesia and Vietnam which lead the way (22% each), followed by China (20%). But look at the corresponding audience sizes, and the importance of these tools in China is plain to see: over 90 million online adults in China have used one to access restricted social platforms. Compare that to places like the UK and USA, where the equivalent figure is just 3%, and the disparity is pretty striking (with most of the 1 million UK and 5 million US users looking to access networks which are restricted in their place of work).

Not only does this trend underline the potential limitations of using passively collected, geo-located data – which can over-estimate the size of social audiences in markets such as the USA, where VPN and Proxy servers tend to be located – it also emphasizes the growing futility of attempting to prevent national audiences from accessing certain sites.

To download the full version of the new GWI Social Q3 report, please visit our Insight Store.


Written by

Jason is Chief Research Officer at GlobalWebIndex. He oversees the global research and insight teams, directs the world-leading research study and specializes in analyzing consumer trends. He writes for titles like the Huffington Post and MediaPost and is a frequent contributor to stories on media outlets such as BBC News, CNN, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

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