This isn’t a blog about how you can use your VPN on Reddit. You just do. This is about why you should.

Reddit is one of the most popular social networking sites on the Internet, with more than 430 million global users. It’s known for a particularly rapid-fire style of conversation. Users can vote posts up or down, drastically altering the pace of discussion as people try to maintain position with new content. It’s where the popular “AMA” or “Ask Me Anything” format was pioneered. And as a result of their popularity combined with a focus on free expression rights, they are targeted by world governments for censorship, banning, and surveillance.

Where a VPN on Reddit Isn’t Possible

There have been several world players that see Reddit as a threat to their political power and have instituted sometimes extreme measures in order to maintain their balance. Here are a few of the bigger examples.

Russia

In 2015, Russian Reddit user rsocfan posted a thread on Reddit about Psilocybe mushrooms. The Russian government had been recently focusing on websites that discussed the hallucinogen and how to produce it, shutting down pages without any accountability or administrative check. 

Rsocfan had been trying for several years to get straight answers out of Roskomnadzor, the country’s media oversight and censorship agency, about what content would and would not be allowed. Without clear guidelines, he posted on Reddit to force them to act.

Two years passed with no activity and very little interest in the post. When Roskomnadzor finally caught up to it, though, things really got out of hand fast. The agency first tried to reach out to Reddit to get them to comply with Russian data handling rules, but after not receiving a reply for 24 hours, then simply tried to shut down access to parts of the site. But because most Russian ISPs didn’t have the hardware to filter content blocks based on HTTPS, many Reddit users in that country found the entire site blocked for most of a day.

China

In 2019, Chinese powerhouse corporation Tencent invested $150 million in Reddit. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal out of context, it’s important to understand a few things.

First, China regularly bans Reddit. Including as of the time of this writing. It is one of the most frequently targeted sites, despite attempts to balance cost and benefit.

The other thing to understand is that Tencent, on top of being the owners of Fortnight and the company that secured exclusive Epic Store game releases by spreading vast sums of money around, are also among the chief architects of the Great Firewall of China

And because VPNs have to register in China to work, there are few virtual private networks that can skirt around these bans implemented by the Chinese government and made possible by one of Reddit’s own investors. Even if you wanted to use your VPN on Reddit while in the country, you might not be able to.

Why You Should Use Your VPN on Reddit

It’s easy to beat up on traditional US “villains” like the Chinese and Russians. And make no mistake, they are just some of the biggest offenders. However, if you are a US-based Reddit user, you aren’t necessarily in the clear either.

In 2018, federal requests for information from the social media site doubled. Reddit only processes these requests when they originate in the United States for US citizens, however they also complied with 77% of data requests that year and 91% of data preservation requests. To their credit, Reddit posts an annual transparency report that at least provides these numbers.

However, the fact of the matter is that Reddit collects the same information on you that many websites do. These requests suggest that using your VPN on Reddit is just good security hygiene.

Connecting to your VPN on Reddit can prevent governments from being able to connect your posts to your physical location. PrivadoVPN’s encrypted tunnel protects all of your data in transit. And, of course, the data itself is encrypted point to point, so even if it can be intercepted, it won’t be readable to outside parties.

It takes very little effort to protect your data online. Always, always use your VPN on Reddit. And every other site you visit to help keep governments, corporations, and hackers out of your business.