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Social media services also enabled people to publicize their views on new songs, list their new favorite bands in their social media bios, and argue over new music endlessly on message boards. The result was that critics now could access the opinions of the masses on a particular album before writing their reviews.

I know "could" have two meaning: 1. ability past, 2. ability now or future

I wonder what the "could" above means.

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From context you can tell that that "could" is in the past.

The two other verbs in the sentence and the sentence before are conjugated in the past tense (enabled, was). This lets you know that what is being talked about is in the past. Therefore, this "could" is past tense.

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