The curious case of the death of Instapaper

Posted on by Mike Evans

Up to this May Instapaper was a reliable and very useful tool for collating articles from all over the web. But then it disappeared and has not returned for over a month

A month ago the very bedrock of my internet news-gathering system disappeared without warning. On the day of the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (which has caused us all a lot of angst, but most of have coped), Instapaper went silent in Europe. Visitors to the website were met with a bland statement:

“Instapaper is temporarily unavailable for residents in Europe as we continue to make changes in light of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect May 25, 2018. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we intend to restore access as soon as possible.”

That was a month ago. I was left without a read-later system. So I decided to move over to Pocket, which does a similar job to Instapaper and is generally well behaved. It isn’t free if you want to suppress sponsored material, unlike Instapaper. But, I suppose what we have learned from the Instapaper saga is that nothing comes for nothing. 

A month later and the Instapaper website has the same message. “As soon as possible” now seems a very hollow promise. I’m sorry, but in these days of fast-moving technology, it cannot possibly take an organisation a month to get itself compliant with GDPR. Indeed, one wonders why Instapaper didn’t do all this in advance, just like the majority of similar sites. 

I’ve now given up hope and I will have to stick with Pocket. I might even have to shell out for yet another subscription to get rid of the intrusive sponsored articles. 

Back in February 2017, I was writing in glowing terms about Instapaper and its value to my workflow. At the time it had been out of action for all of 31 hours, something I decided was unprecedented for a service of this time. But now it has been gone for 31 days and Instapaper has left behind a nasty taste, in Europe at least.


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