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Loyal users blast new version of Google Reader

Users criticise latest version of reader, say absence of social-networking features will assist government censorship

Ahmed Mahmoud, Thursday 27 Oct 2011
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The new Google Reader, unveiled last week, has received considerable criticism by a large number of users of the old version.

The web-based aggregator, released in 2005, had allowed subscribers to stay up to date with their favourite websites and constantly check specific news sites and blogs for new content. The built-in public page allowed users to share interesting items with friends and colleagues through various social networks in a totally secure environment.

Last week, Google announced that its new reader would function as an RSS reader only, noting that the social features included in the older version would no longer be available. Rather, the company added, Google Plus – Google’s latest social networking product – would be made available replete with social networking features.

The elimination of the Google Reader’s sharing function has prompted an angry reaction on the part of many loyal Google Reader users.

On Wednesday, frustrated Google Reader users staged demonstrations outside the company’s Washington, DC headquarters to protest the fact that they weren’t consulted before the decision was taken.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a group of Iranian dissidents published a blog post explaining the Google Reader’s political importance. Most importantly, they noted, the reader was available behind a secure URL, making it difficult for the government to directly block and filter it.

"The Google Reader had allowed Iranians to obtain uncensored news outside of government control,” one blogger noted. But with the changes made to the latest version, he added, “now that may be over."

The Iranian government has already banned a number of other prominent social networking sites, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Tumblr and Flickr.

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