Anti-Paywall is a new browser extension for Firefox and Chrome designed to bypass website paywalls automatically when pages of supported sites are visited.
Paywall systems are designed to keep anyone but subscribers from accessing certain content on the Internet. Especially newspaper sites use the feature to limit access to content, and to entice visitors to subscribe so that they may access content during the subscription period.
Non-subscribers run into issues with these sites however. If an article is linked on a social media site or elsewhere, there is usually no indication whether it is behind a paywall or not (unless the author added the information).
It is frustrating to follow a link only to be greeted by a "access denied" message and a big subscription box.
The Anti-Paywall extension for Firefox and Chrome uses various methods to bypass paywalls for supported sites. The list of sites includes Forbes, Independent UK, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Times, The Australian, Seattle Times or The Wall Street Journal right now. You find the full list of sites that it supports on the project's GitHub page.
The extension works automatically without you having to do anything. If you check the source code, you will notice that it uses various means, most notable changes to the user agent to mask as Google Bot, cookies or referer, to bypass the paywall.
What it does depends largely on the site in question. I tested the extension extensively on several of the supported sites, and it did work as advertised. I could access all articles and was not exposed to the paywall at all.
Extensions like Anti-Paywall need constant updating as sites make modifications to the systems they use regularly. Some options, like masquerading as Google Bot, worked for years however, and there does not seem to be an end in sight on that.
Anti-Paywall is a handy browser extension for Chrome and Firefox to access blocked content on many newspaper sites. It does away with the "opening a link and finding out that you cannot access the content of the page" issue that sites with paywalls cause regularly.
Now You: How do you handle sites with paywalls?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.