Google Chrome Is Creating Problems for Your Favorite Publications

Is Google Chrome making it easier or harder for us to get out news?

Google Chrome's new software release is creating problems for publications.
Google Chrome's new software release is creating problems for publications. (Fairfax Media via Getty)
By Annika Hogan / June 28, 2019 9:53 am

You know that moment when you start reading a really fascinating article and then an infuriating box demanding you to “subscribe to keep reading” pops up? You know that following moment when you realize you’re a secret IT genius and all you have to do is switch on “incognito mode” to avoid paying the fee? But then you try again, this time with your secret trick, and the annoying box pops up once more, and you remember that you don’t actually have a future at Apple?

Incognito mode, as described by NiemenLabs’ Josh Benton, is what “temporarily blocks a site’s ability to read or write cookies on your device, and cookies are most typically how a subscription site knows whether you’re a paying customer or not.” In the past, publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Dallas Morning News have hired “incognito catcher” services to prevent you from dodging the fee.

But on July 30, Google Chrome, one of the most popular browsers, will be updating their software. This version will pressure paywalls and make them easier to bypass through the “incognito mode.” Recently, publishers have been moving towards tighter and tighter paywalls because of their increase in desire for reader revenue. Most leading content producers allow their audience to read one or two articles for free and then hit them with the “subscribe to keep reading” box, but with the leakier system provided by Chrome, they may be more likely to require registration before reading any material.

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