Medium, the blog platform/publisher that once wanted to revolutionise online media, has put its content behind a $US5 ($7)/month paywall. After a couple of free articles per month, you can’t read anything else without paying up. Unless you use Twitter.
Since February, Medium articles have been free when you visit them from Twitter. So if someone tweets a Medium piece or sends it in a direct message, anyone clicking the link won’t get hit with the paywall. This even applies when you DM yourself. It’s an easy way to see any Medium article for free.
If you hit the Medium paywall, just open Twitter, go to your DMs, and DM yourself the link. Then click the link from your own DM, and you’re in.
It’s a bit of work, but less work than getting around the paywall at the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. And while Medium posts can range widely in quality, it’s home to several quality publications like Gen and OneZero, plus all the older publications that Medium cultivated and shut down.
I tested this DM process with a dozen links in a row, from a variety of Medium publications, and it kept working. So if there’s any rate limit on this trick, it’s above the number of Medium articles you probably run into on a given day. Once you’re pasting that many URLs into Twitter every day, you might just want to pay the five bucks a month.
I hoped that Twitter was just adding a string to the end of outbound URLs to tell other sites that a visitor is coming from Twitter. That way I could pretend I was coming from Twitter by pasting a string to the end of a Medium article’s URL, and skip the DM process. But Twitter runs all outbound links through its t.co URL shortener, so I couldn’t find an easy workaround. If you manage to hack one together, please share it with the class.