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Paywalls are anti-web

Paywalls create a barrier between content on a website and users. To access the content, a user must pay for a subscription or a one-time payment.

We see more companies increasingly using paywalls on their websites. Like a domino effect, one website does it, and this then encourages others to do the same.

The companies make the articles accessible to search engines, who then provide this as a search result to users looking for a solution only to click the link and then be faced with a toll to access the content.

This behavior is anti world wide web.

You see, the world wide web that we often refer to simply as the internet was born on fair use principles. The idea was that the protocols given away for free by Tim Berners-Lee would allow us to share information for free and make the world a better place.

Placing a paywall between people and content goes against those early principles.

The companies doing this cite reasons for doing this, such as ad revenue not making them enough money, which is a lie, or that it is better than using display advertisements in the first place - while many also continue to use ads alongside paywalls.

Some paywalled websites even publish articles such as this one titled, 'The Internet is Rotting.' Which has a byline that reads, "Too much has been lost already. The glue that holds humanity’s knowledge together is coming undone."

This writer agrees but finds it a little hypocritical that a website preventing access to information decries information decay.

Indeed, there are hypocritical companies everywhere. Even Google is promoting these websites in the search results knowing that users can't access the information. Nobody can pretend that they are working to promote an open web while they continue to use or support paywalls no matter how many mental gymnastics they perform.

The fact of the matter is that companies are happy to lie to users whenever the result is favorable towards what they are doing. So long as the consensus and the general attitude are positive, they'll continue to misrepresent the truth to you. Remember, these companies say they cannot afford to run a website with ads instead of just admitting that paywalls make them even more profit.

If you care about the web, then you'll understand why paywalls are so toxic and that what they represent is not healthy for the future of an open web ecosystem.

Three things you can do to help:

  • Boycott paywalled websites
  • Talk about this problem with friends, family, or on your blog/socials.
  • Share this article to help spread awareness.