The Washington Post

Occupy Google Reader: Changes to the RSS feed irk the ‘sharebros’

Occupy Google Reader protesters hope that Google will take a closer look at shutting down the RSS aggregator’s social features, which are scheduled to be rolled into Google Plus. (Joerg Sarbach/dapd/AP)

Hey, kind of like those other guys on Wall Street! So a bedraggled few Google Reader devotees took their cue from the Occupy movement to create one of its nerdiest offshoots: Occupy Google Reader, a small protest outside of Google’s Washington, D.C. offices Wednesday afternoon in the rain.

The protest, organized through Facebook, brought Google Reader fans — or “sharebros,” as they’re sometimes called — together with signs like “Google: Don’t Mark All as Read,” and “We are the 1000+.” There were 10 protesters total, if you count one protester’s daughter, a toddler.

TBD’s Andrew Beaujon was on the scene

The group halfheartedly attempts a couple of chants: "We're here! We share! We're agitated!" [organizer Leah] Libresco suggests. "Ra-ra-read!" someone else offers.

The 10 protesters in D.C. aren’t the only ones who are upset about the changes to Google Reader. A petition has gathered more than 7,000 signatures. In addition, Iranians are upset about the changes to Reader because it was one of the few social sites permitted in a country where Twitter, Facebook, and other networking sites are blocked. Google Reader helped Iranians disseminate news about the Arab Spring. Because international news channels and blogging platforms are banned there too, many Iranian Reader users utilize the notes function as a form of blogging.

The ire of the protesters, though, may not lead to a wholesale abandonment of the Google Reader. Google will be rolling functions like following and shared link blogs into Google Plus. The company announced it would give fans a week to save their shared data and start Google+ circles to export the information there.

Eventually, Robert O. Boorstin, a director of public policy for Google, greeted the D.C. protesters and handed out his business card, reports TBD. “We took it to the man, and he gave us his business card!” one protester cheered.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


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