How Does Your Location Affect The Content You See Online

In 1984, Jeffrey Archer published First Among Equals, a book charting the competition between contemporaries vying for the position of prime minister. By the time the book was set for publishing in the United States, he had to alter the story to mirror the change in the political system.

That is an example of how geographical location can affect the content available to consumers. In those days, simply altering content and re-releasing might have been adequate. In today’s world, digital media and content are everywhere at once. As such, one of the latest tools to facilitate variable access is geo-blocks.

Geo-blocking can completely restrict people from consuming certain content. Alternatively, it can help protect copyrights and intellectual property. In this article, we explore in depth the effect of location on the accessibility of online content.

Effect of Location on Content Availability

The effect of location on accessibility and the type of online content available can take many forms. In other words, it can occur for many reasons. Here are some of them:

  1. Censorship. Censorship is the most popular way location can affect the availability and type of online content. For instance, a country may restrict individuals’ access to social media, websites, streaming platforms, etc., if they deem the content inappropriate. In other words, they are robbing them of the ability to consume such content. Some countries like India popularly employ such tactics, and often, residents use VPNs that work in India.
  2. Regional licensing. While censorship might be security or politically motivated, licensing is business. Distribution of certain content in some regions may be impossible due to licensing agreements. As such, they are inaccessible to users and consumers in affected regions.
  3. Legal restrictions. Sometimes, the reason location limits your choices is purely legal. Such is the case with gambling and adult content in some countries. Movie boards and gaming commissions control the distribution and accessibility of such disputed commodities. For instance, the legality of gambling in the United States depends on the stance of the state’s gaming commission. In other words, it’s legal in some states and illegal in others. 
  4. Cultural norms. Even in areas where certain content is legal, cultural norms may affect accessibility. This often forces content creators to change or plan out the type and scope of their content.
  5. Local events. Local events might push international content to unsuitable viewing times. Such a possibility might make the content inaccessible to large parts of the population. On the flip side, the locality of an event might also make it inaccessible to local viewers. As odd as it might sound, that’s the case with premier league fans and viewers within the UK. Games played on Saturday afternoons are unavailable to viewers at home via local channels. 

What is Geo-Blocking, and Why is it popular?

Geo-blocking is popular for many reasons. Independent content creators and media distribution companies use it to apportion distribution rights in various regions without creating unwanted overlaps.

On the other hand, countries use it to prevent consuming content that goes against their citizens’ cultural and political values. 

Citizens may turn to VPNs and web proxies in such situations to securely bypass censorship attempts. In summary, here are the reasons why geo-blocking is popular:

  • Market segmentation and pricing strategies
  • Regulatory compliance 
  • Copyright protection
  • Licensing agreements

There are sufficient loopholes in each of the above cases to help willing entities abuse such blocks.

How to Minimise the Effect of Location on Content Availability 

Organizations and countries abuse geo-blocking as a tool for discrimination or political agendas. Content consumers, on their part, employ tools that help mimic or erase the effects of geo-blocking. The most popular such tools are:

  • Web proxies. A proxy reroutes a user’s web requests and traffic through a server in another location. As such, they change IP addresses and enable their users to spoof other locations. The consequence is that users can connect seemingly from a location that’s not blocked.
  • VPNs. A reliable VPN reroutes traffic just like a proxy. However, it also uses tunneling, encryption, and data encapsulation protocols and infrastructure to improve security and anonymity. To find the best provider, check out the VPN comparison table on Reddit.
  • Torrent. Users can employ torrents to access and distribute otherwise inaccessible content. However, it can only help access content. It can’t facilitate access to censored platforms like VPNs and proxies. Unfortunately, it’s also a haven for malware and cybercriminals.


Geo-restrictions on content have their uses. However, they can also inhibit education and research, prevent entertainment, and curtail expression. We hope to have provided a clearer understanding of the challenges and considerations involved. Furthermore, the tools and strategies introduced here are intended to empower users with the knowledge to navigate these digital barriers responsibly.