One of the things I find quite nice on my Android smartphone is the Google news feed that it sends me consistently for my reading pleasure. This Android feature can be quickly accessed by swiping from the left when I’m at my home screen. I often do this, usually after I wake up. That is, just browse through the feed and read news that I might find interesting, before I get up to make some coffee. It also follows my likes or things that I search for on Google (So Google is tracking people’s Android usage patterns, not a secret). What goes into the feed can be customized somewhere as well (I think, although I can’t remember the last time I configured it this way), like what topics or categories of readable content do I want to see in it.
That brings me to paid news sites or subscription-based ones. Whatever they are called. What happens is that the site will limit the content I can read up to a paragraph or two. Normally there is a Read More link/button that when clicked out comes a banner that says something like “Subscribe to read the full article”. I’ve encountered these sites a number of times in my feed. It kinda leaves me hanging, especially when the news looks juicy enough, which sucks. But I didn’t want to subscribe so back to the feed. Perhaps some sites let you close these and continue reading via some X button or exit text that is intentionally designed to be missed by the human eye? These Subscribe Now gotchas, however, is enough to dissuade me immediately.
It used to be that I would tell Google that I’m not interested in that site. That way I don’t get it in my feed anymore, and not waste time reading only 1/5th of the news from that site. At one point though I found out that on some of these sites I am still able to read the entire written content if I switch my browser to Reader View or Reader Mode. This browser functionality has been around for a while. I use it about half the time on plenty other things before. What it does is it lets me focus on the text content by removing site clutter such as ads, images, and videos that may be loaded on the web page.
That’s not all. I have ad blocker plugins/add-ons on my mobile browsers. A number of websites are already employing that Disable Ad Blocker pop-up warning. I can still continue browsing through the site since the pop-up will have a link that says “Continue without disabling” blah blah, written in very small letters. Others don’t have that option. So I’m left with either having to add that site to the ad blocker whitelist or close the page.
Again, I was able to get around this a number of times by turning on Reader Mode of the browser. Neat, huh? I wonder how long before this workaround doesn’t work anymore? I’ve known about this fairly recently, maybe during the pandemic if I recall correctly.
Of course, this goes without saying, if you fancy a website’s content, consider supporting it by adding it to your ad blocker’s whitelist. The ads they display support the creators to continue to provide readers with content “for free”. If they have a subscription-based offer, why not subscribe? You can always end subscription any time. This is just like when we bought newspapers to get the latest news back then, if ever you’ve already been around during that era. Then again, the Internet has really spoiled a lot of people, definitely including me, with tons of freebies.
Update: I’ve noticed that Reader Mode does not appear on some websites. Well, it was just 1 website. I could be wrong though. Are sites able to bypass this functionality on the client-side, the user’s browser?
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