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If you want to read paid-for Medium articles without actually paying, you can now bypass the paywall using Twitter. Medium insists writers who produce paywalled content won’t lose any revenue, so this seems like a win-win for everyone involved.
The History of Medium’s Paywall
In March 2016, Medium started offering paid memberships. For $5/month or $50/year, Medium members gain exclusive access to articles, early access to new features, and no more ads. This means some articles are hidden behind a paywall to non-paying plebs.
At first, Medium’s Partner Program was limited to certain writers. However, in October 2017, Medium opened its Partner Program up to everyone, which means you can now get paid to write Medium articles. The problem is getting enough people to pay up.
How to Bypass Medium’s Paywall
In an effort to drive traffic to Medium, and potentially encourage people to start paying, Medium CEO Ev Williams has announced that people visiting Medium from Twitter will be able to bypass the paywall. Williams happens to be the co-founder of Twitter.
Essentially, anyone clicking a link to a paid-for Medium article from Twitter will be catapulted over the paywall without needing to pay. Medium authors expressed concerns this would mean less money, but Williams has assured them this isn’t the case.
All @Medium paywalled stories are now free and unmetered when you’re coming from Twitter.
— Ev Williams (@ev) February 27, 2019
The only question mark remaining is whether offering people an easy way to bypass the paywall is more or less likely to turn them from free users into paid users. On the one hand they’ll get a taste of the content on offer, but on the other, their need to pay disappears.
Blame People Using Ad-Blockers
Williams obviously hopes that by giving people a backdoor pass behind the paywall, Medium will add more paid subscribers. However, it’s certainly a gamble, as it’s surely only a matter of time before a Twitter bot starts linking to every paywalled Medium article.
And as for paywalls, no one likes them. However, they’re becoming more common thanks to people using ad-blockers. If you kill content creators’ passive income streams then they’re forced to seek more active income streams which require cold, hard cash.