Firefox extension allow users to bypass over 75 paywall websites

Side-by-side comparison of wallstreet journals paywalled and de-paywalled interface

Mozilla Firefox really takes the cake compared to Google Chrome in relation to privacy out of the box. With addon customization, users can extend the functionality of the browser beyond Firefox’s offering. Developers have created an extension which circumvents many of the popular pay-walled sites on the Internet. While useful for the users, it is not favorable for the web content creators.

Side-by-side comparison of wallstreet journals paywalled and de-paywalled interface

The plugin is called ‘Bypass Paywalls for Firefox,” and it is currently exclusive to Mozilla Firefox. The plugin is based on WebExtensinos, but Google Chrome users are out of luck on this one. Pale Moon, a fork of an older version of Mozilla Firefox also cannot use this extension. The plugin is open-source and can only be downloaded from the Github repository.

Screenshot displaying
Bypass Paywalls on Mozilla Firefox Add-ons page

The plugin operates by manipulating the DOM (Document Object Model) of a website. The DOM is the content sent from the website to the browser to load content, images, and interactivity. The DOM is manipulate-able, meaning content can be hidden at the user’s end. Some of the websites using paywall to block regular users are using javascript to block or limit the visible content. The extension either prevents or manipulates the edit made by the websites to prevent locking of the content. The extension doesn’t work on websites that implement paywalls on the server end.

The extension, as of writing the article, can bypass 75 article websites. These include popular websites like Washington Post, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Bloomberg, and Business Insider. An updated complete list is available on the Github repository.

The list of sites operational with the current version of extension are:
1. Baltimore Sun
2. Barron’s
3. Bloomberg
4. Business Insider
5. Caixin
6. Chemical & Engineering News
7. Central Western Daily
8. Chicago Tribune
9. Crain’s Chicago Business
10. Corriere Della Sera
11. Daily Press
12. Denver Post
13. De Tijd
14. de Volkskrant
15. The Economist
16. Examiner
17. Financial Times
18. Foreign Policy
19. Glassdoor
22. Handelsblatt
23. Hartford Courant
24. Harvard Business Review
26. Investors Chronicle
27. La Repubblica
28. Le Temps
29. Los Angeles Times
30. Medium
31. Medscape
32. MIT Technology Review
33. Mountain View Voice
34. National Post
35. New Statesman
36. New York Magazine
37. New Zealand Herald
38. Nikkei Asian Review
39. NRC
40. Orange County Register
41. Orlando Sentinel
42. Palo Alto Online
43. Quora
44. Statista
45. SunSentinel
46. Tech in Asia
47. The Advocate
48. The Age
49. The Australian
50. The Australian Financial Review
51. The Boston Globe
52. The Business Journals
53. The Diplomat
54. The Globe and Mail
55. The Herald
56. The Japan Times
57. TheMarker
58. The Mercury News
59. The Morning Call
60. The Nation
61. The New York Times
62. The New Yorker
63. The News-Gazette
64. The Saturday Paper
65. The Spectator
66. The Seattle Times
67. The Sydney Morning Herald
68. The Telegraph
69. The Times
70. The Toronto Star
71. The Washington Post
72. The Wall Street Journal
73. Towards Data Science
74. Vanity Fair
75. Wired

While we did test some site, there are chances where the web developers can change the way the paywalls are integrated. A small change could make the extension incapable of bypassing the paywall. So you will have to create an issue on the Github project page to let the developer know.

Other ways to bypass these paywalled websites are by using a Google Bot as the user-agent. Websites need Google search engine to account for the content they’ve created. Google accounts for the article, image, and all the content of a website. Limiting content displayed to Google seem counter-intuitive, so some website may let Google bot see all of the websites’ content. There are many user-agentswitchers available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

For websites limiting the number of articles you can read before the paywall appears, you can clear the cookies to renew the number of articles you can read. Cookies are tiny set of the information set on the browser to identify you or provide website functionality. You can try to use private browsing to check if this option works, Then you can clear the cookies and data stored by the website on your browser.