News: Oops, New York Times... Why Is Your PayWall So Easy to Hack?

Oops, New York Times... Why Is Your PayWall So Easy to Hack?

When the New York Times paywall first went up, there was a whole lot of balking. The idea seemed egregious to most, and the digerati's overwhelming conclusion was that the system would fail. But interestingly enough, there is speculation that the NYT is actually experiencing an increase in their print subscriptions, which according to Business Insider founder Henry Blodgett, is due to users feeling less guilt over buying the print media if, after all, the digital version is no longer free.

But, regardless of whether the paywall is working or not, it has been incredibly easy to bypass from the get go, including YouTube user joesabiaco's recently posted hack:

Didn't catch it? Here it is, in three easy steps:

  1. Select everything in the URL beginning from the "?" to the end.
  2. Hit "Delete".
  3. Hit "Enter" to reload your newly bypassed, free-to-read article.

Enjoy it while you can, as the NYT is sure to fix it soon. Or maybe not... After all, the NYT can't be that stupid, can they? Why is it so easy to hack the NYT paywall? Professor Dwayne Winseck at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University speculates in a recent article:

"The NYT probably isn't seeking an ironclad pay wall that captures everyone, but rather a mechanism that captures the 95% of people who won't be bothered to take the second step necessary to circumvent what it has in place.

One of the smart things that I think is being realized by newspapers around the world is that, as some of the main 'content factories' of the entire media ecology, they want to, and serve a broader desirable function by, being searchable, accessible and linkable. So, keeping all of those things in mind, the fact that the pay wall is porous and easily circumvented probably isn't all that surprising."

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