Google Hack Gives Free Access to Premium Newspaper Articles

Written by Amit Agarwal on Jul 19, 2012

Online newspaper sites like the Financial Times require users to sign-in if they want to read more than one article on their site. The New York Times too had such a restriction in place earlier but they seem to have dropped that requirement now.

The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, is a subscription-based site. They do offer free access to some of news stories but all the premium content is behind a pay-wall and therefore available only to paid subscribers.

Since these newspaper websites are part of the “First Click Free” program, someone visiting them via Google search can read the first page of the story without registering or subscribing. The first click is therefore “free” but the user will have to sign-in or register to read further.

First Click Free & Google Visitors

However, due to a possible bug in the implementation, the registration prompt gets bypassed for Google visitors giving them free access to all the news articles – even the premium content meant for subscribers.

It works like this. You first copy the web address of any news article that is behind the registration firewall and paste that URL into the Google Search box. Now click the first Google result and you’ll be able to read the full text of the corresponding story without registering or subscribing.

Reading WSJ articles via Google

Reading Financial Times via Google

Subscribe to our Email Newsletter