All leading news websites nowadays come with paywalls. If you read more than two to three articles, you will have to pay for a subscription. To many of us, it feels like a low number and a blatant disregard for open web principles as far as the website is concerned.
Hence, we will discuss a few ways to get around paywall subscriptions. While we do not endorse misuse, these hacks can be used sparingly to access the content you need. Surely it does not make sense to subscribe to every news channel out there. It is really an individual decision on whether to continue reading or buy a subscription.
1. Use Cached Versions of Websites
As of 2019, news outlets understand that freeloaders are going to mooch off them by using cached versions of their sites. They simply disable the cache when you try searching with
keyword+in:URL. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Times (UK) and New Yorker no longer show cache results.
Having said this, not all paywall websites have wised up to this clever technique. I recently had to do some research on advertising at Ad Week, and the cache method worked without any issues. This means that you really have to check with individual websites to know their approach to caching.
2. Rinse and Repeat
Since most news websites have limits of three to five free articles per month, it is possible to reset your count with Ctrl + H. After clearing your history, it will work for a while. In the past one could access the blocked content on Chrome or Firefox in Private/Incognito mode. However, that hole has been plugged ever since.
3. Use Web Archives
If you’re not particularly keen about the latest content, you can simply check online archive tools. Wayback Machine and WebCite are two of the best links to search for backdated online content. All you have to do is check whether the URL has been archived in the past. This will give date-wise results so that you can go for the most recent updates.
More than providing you inaccessible content, these websites provide a very valuable service. They ensure that if the news sites eventually delete something which others are reporting, it can be traced from the archives. As a result, such links are often used by journalists and those who suffer online censorship.
4. Use Paywall Bypass Extensions
There are no good extensions available on Chrome to bypass paywalls. This is actually good for the news organizations, as more than 60 percent of web users are on Chrome. At the same time, Mozilla Firefox provides a decent bypass alternative. You have to visit a GitHub page called “Bypass Paywalls for Firefox.”
Once there, simply download the latest version of the extension which will install on your Firefox browser. You can see a long and updated list of websites supported. The add-on works together only with another extension called uBlock Origin.
After enabling both the extensions, you can look forward to non-stop, uninterrupted browsing on many websites. I just managed to read twenty-six articles on New York Times without any trouble. Each time the subscription window scrolls up, it is disabled automatically.
On some websites you may have the subscription window scroll right back on your screen. Simply close it (without these extensions, you can’t), and read the article without feeling guilty!
Of course, this extension works best with the “Rinse and Repeat” technique described earlier. It is good to frequently delete your history and cache for best results.
Understandably, many people have second thoughts and scruples about bypassing paywalls. But what if you don’t really visit their website that often? How fair is it for them to demand payment for an occasional visit? As long as there is no misuse intended, you have the right to access the content you need.
What are your views on bypassing paywalls, and are there any other techniques which you have used?