Home News The curious case of the death of Instapaper

The curious case of the death of Instapaper

  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
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.



  1. On another interesting point, who makes the editorial decisions about what is included and what is not on these, let us call them, ‘news gathering’ sites? If you conduct a search, are all known articles included or just a select bunch, ordered according to their advertising /selling potential a la Google? Google has got considerably less useful as a search engine since it went truly ‘commercial’.


    • No, it isn’t like that at all. Any article that takes me eye — BBC news, a website, photo magazine, on-line newspaper — I can send to Instapaper or Pocket. I then see everything in one place. But my main sifting technique is to go through all the RSS feeds from sites I follow. If I want to read anything in more detail I simply send to Instapaper or Pocket. It saves a lot of time because I can sift through stacks of material in minutes without getting sidetracked by reading something.

      With this in mind, I cannot see what problem there is with GDPR. It’s just an invisibility bookmarking a website and that cannot be sensitive, I would have thought. Perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye.

      • Thanks Mike. That sounds good, sort of a folder for digital articles. Maybe the publishers are asking Instapaper for feedback on what is going into users’ folders. It would have been a nice little side-line earner, but not really in the spirit of GDPR. I understand, however, that most GDPR provisions can be overcome by getting the users permission for such data collection.


  2. I am truly baffled with the Instapaper GDPR move – I have had to do this for the bit of my organisation that I own – yes it a real pain in the derriere, and somethings just need to be looked at considered – and evidenced that you have reviewed them and considered them, and if there is a risk, then you need to have a risk management process to at least limit any potential breach to an individual or group etc etc.

    And yes there is that oxymoron I found which I wrote about beneath your article on the GDPR (I still have confirming answer as to what is the definitive outcome). Probably because some poor sap is now rewriting the document to reflect an adjustment to the rules to remove the oxymoron. But given the majority of the mass media is still up, and still churning away pretty much as did before. Then this really is an over reaction to the changes by Instapaper – in my humblest of opinions.


  3. I started using Instapaper in the states in part due to your recommendation. It is an integral part of my day especially the playlist feature. So far I haven’t noticed any changes and it has continued to work seamlessly here. Curiously, I have not seen the privacy update for it that most other web apps and sites pushed out weeks ago. Hopefully, they’ll resolve whatever they need to and start operating in Europe again.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.