Twitter/Facebook Loophole

There are an endless number of tricks and techniques used by sites to attract not just traffic, but the traffic that translates into sales and profit. The Wall Street Journal did this by creating a “pay wall” for its online news services. The average Internet reader could peruse specific articles for free.

If they wanted access to other stories, namely the most newsworthy ones, they would have to pay. The “Google loophole” allowed readers to get the same articles for free if they arrived at the website via Google. The New York Times is putting the pay wall into effect, and they, too, will have a loophole. Move over, Google. This time, it is Twitter and Facebook.

All readers who travel to the New York Times by way of Facebook or Twitter will be allowed to read the off-limits, pay-only stories for free. Those who arrive via Google can still read the articles for free, but they will be limited to five per day, whereas those who come from the two social media sites will have unlimited access. Why is one of the most respected newspapers in the United States giving Facebook and Twitter users preference? TechCrunch proposes that traffic from these sites is more valuable to the news organization, and they don’t want to anger the most vocal, savvy netizens, who tend to come from social media sites.

This is a distinct possibility because sites with pay walls tend to alienate and anger people. The NYT doesn’t want to alienate the loud people, which happened when they tried a pay wall for columnist content in 2008. They have since returned that material to the free realm but are hoping that a pay wall will work this time given the right loophole.

More people are getting their news via Facebook and Twitter feeds, and the NYT is banking that it won’t scare off its core readership. Another possible motive is that the NYT figured those coming from Google would be more likely to pay for their material, while younger, more tech savvy social media users would rebel against that.

Leave a Comment