Last month, Google announced that it was overhauling its RSS aggregator, Google Reader, in an effort to drive more people to Google+. The changes went live today, and now, rather than having the option to share articles with other users within Google Reader, users have to go through Google+ instead. It might not seem like a big deal to most of the service’s users, but for a select few, it’s a major source of outrage.
A group of Google Reader obsessives called the “sharebros” (yes, this is a real thing) launched a petition asking Google to revert its Reader back to the old version, and so far, have managed to get more than 10,000 signatures. “Many of us have been faithful users of your Reader for years,” the petition reads. “It's central to our daily information consumption routines . . . Eliminating Google Reader or its features (like following friends' shared items) is shortsighted because you will alienate some of your most loyal users, sparking a vocal backlash.”
Some disgruntled sharebros took a page from the Occupy movements, organizing their own Occupy Google Reader protest. Last week, a small group of protesters (there were 10, including one protester’s toddler daughter) “occupied” Google’s Washington, D.C., offices, carrying signs like “We are the 1000+” and “Google: Don’t Mark All as Read.” Since then, Occupy Google Reader movement seems to have migrated to a Twitter hashtag.
American sharebros aren’t the only ones who aren’t pleased with the new Google Reader. A group of Iranian activists have also voiced their dismay over the changes. According to Mashable, Google Reader is the most visited website in Iran, where most social networks, blogging sites, and international news channels have been banned. To get around those restrictions, many Iranians use Google Reader to share information and “blog” through the site’s notes feature.
According to Iranian blogger Amir, integrating Google Reader with Google+ effectively makes the site just like “any already available and banned website like Facebook!”