How Much Demand Will There Be for Circumventing New York Times Paywall?

NYTimes.com, fully free for a few more days

A Forbes.com article by Jeff Bercovici discusses the New York Times‘s plan to shut down a rogue Twitter feed called FreeNYTimes, which is meant to circumvent the Times‘s upcoming metered model (some people call it a paywall). As Bercovici writes:

It’s clever, but it’s not kosher. “We have asked Twitter to disable this feed as it is in violation of our trademark,” says a Times spokeswoman. She adds that the paper has been monitoring and has already blown the whistle on other violations. … I also asked her about NYTClean, a bookmark that defeats the paywall with the aid of four lines of code. The response: “As we have said previously, as with any paid product, we expect that there will be some percentage of people who will find ways around our digital subscriptions. We will continue to monitor the situation but plan no changes to the programming or paywall structure in advance of our global launch on March 28th.”

Well, of course I clicked on the FreeNYTimes feed to see how many people are following it. (Yes, I have a bit of interest in Twitter followship.) And I have to say, I was quite surprised by the number I saw.

Care to take a guess? Go ahead, guess; don’t look at the sentence below.

Okay. As I type these words, at around 6 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, the FreeNYTimes feed has a whopping 152 followers. Am guessing this doesn’t say anything too meaningful about demand for free NYTimes.com content, but still, I’m surprised.

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  1. Jon says:

    It doesn’t say anything meaningful about the demand for free access to the NY Times. Few people want EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE from the Times to clog their Twitter feed via this account. Many, many more will simply search for the account @FreeNYTimes when they find a specific article they’d like to read in its entirety, thus sidestepping the need to follow the account.

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    • kahliabear says:

      Exactly, Jon. I’m not following it already because I didn’t know about it, but now that I do, I still won’t precisely because I have no desire to see *everything* in my feed.

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  2. rmw26 says:

    I added several knuckleheads who openly admitted having 100% WTP on the paywall, hoping that collection will result in not missing much. Its twitter for crying out loud.

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  3. peter says:

    It is still free this month, right? Seems like the number of follows wouldn’t go up until people actually start running into the article limit.

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  4. lee says:

    the bookmarklet will be much more popular among technophiles than the twitter feed will be. no reason to have to search for individual articles you want through it.

    besides, why should the times have any right to take down somebody’s feed? if you don’t like it, change the policy.

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  5. Max says:

    I think the Forbes article got it wrong. this is the feed that’s been in the news for trying to circumvent the paywall: http://twitter.com/#!/freeNYT

    It has quite a few more followers. Not an alarming amount, but certainly not the tiny number you based this post on.

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  6. Free Wally says:

    Here is somebody’s twitter feed of TimesWire links.

    https://twitter.com/timeswiretap

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  7. Thomas Miller says:

    As of now Times is still free with noneed to follow this Twitter site. If still up when paywall begins those numbers will surely change

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