Have you ever tried to access your favorite website at work or school only to find that it’s been blocked?
Plenty of internet users have experienced exactly that, but it’s even worse if you live in a country that censors the web. And according to a new study by NordVPN, a virtual private network service provider, if you’re trying to get around internet restrictions — regardless of where in the world you live — you’re most likely trying to watch a video on YouTube.
Researchers at NordVPN analyzed Google search terms containing the keyword “unblock” for countries around the world. (NordVPN provides a service that acts as a workaround whether your favorite website is blocked at work or in your entire country; a VPN basically changes your IP address and routes your traffic through it so it looks like you’re located somewhere the content isn’t blocked.)
They found that by far, YouTube is the most searched website accompanying the term “unblock” around the world. A whopping 82.7 percent of internet users searching to unblock websites are looking to access the video platform.
The second most searched website users want to unblock? Facebook, with a mere 6.2 percent. Google, Instagram, and Reddit round out the top 5 of sites people want to unblock worldwide.
The study looked at Google’s search tools, providing global data as well as search volume by country.
Interestingly, Facebook and Google each own two platforms on the top 5 list. Another interesting note: people are searching on Google to figure out how to unblock Google. NordVPN digital privacy expert Daniel Markusson explains why.
“As peculiar as it sounds, people are ‘googling’ how to unblock Google,” he said. “The motive is to look for and access information without the fear of punishment, especially in countries where internet censorship is part of the government’s agenda.”
So is YouTube that much more popular than other online platforms, or does it just get blocked more?
Well, YouTube is the second-most popular website in the world, so it’s massively popular in its own right. However, it also has a much more robust copyright system to identify videos than other platforms, so more content gets restricted. YouTube also lets users know if they come across a piece of content it can’t access, instead of outright hiding it or displaying an error or blank page.
“Some video content is not available in certain countries due to copyright or censorship,” says Markusson. “This makes people look for workarounds.”
The U.S. makes up the largest numbers of “unblock YouTube” searches at 7.7 percent — an even higher rate than countries where content is blocked by the government. India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the UK round out the top 5 countries searching to gain access to the platform.