THE BLOG
03/15/2013 01:52 pm ET | Updated May 15, 2013

Google+ Users in Uproar About Google Reader Shutdown

There's an intense campaign underway on Google+ for Google to keep Google Reader operating.

Since Google announced it is "Powering Down Google Reader" on July 1, some of the most vocal complaints and calls for Reader's return have come on Google's social network.

The hashtags #savegooglereader, #reader and #savereader have gone viral, and they've been listed on Google+'s "Trending" list for hours since the announcement (#savereader was the Top Trend as recently as this morning).

While Google doesn't publicly release data on hashtag usage, at one point in the past 48 hours, these hashtags were observed being used multiple times per minute under its "Most recent" column, a stream that was looking a lot more like Twitter when a topic there is trending.

Users have sought out high-profile Googlers and left comments asking for the company to reconsider. Google CEO Larry Page is receiving dozens of comments about Google Reader on his most recent Google+ post, which is unrelated.

One user, 池筱沫, who identifies as a student at Tongji University in Shanghai, China, simply wrote in a comment to Page, "Keep google reader running please!!!!!" His comment received 144 plus-ones.

Similarly, Google's Senior VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra has received a series of comments about Reader on his latest Google+ post, also unrelated.

Influential Google+ users have been vocal about the news as well. One power user Linda Lawrey, who has been circled more than a million times, wrote on Google+ in reaction to the news, "Google never made me feel like the product. Until today." She changed her Google+ cover photo to "Google Reader: Save It!," an action that got 226 plus-ones and 130 shares.

"While journalists and tech pundits are outraged over the impending shutdown of Reader, I am neither a journalist nor a tech pundit," she elaborated to HuffPost. "I'm a Google product user that invested a lot of time in many of those products because Google gave me something in return for what I give them - my data."

"Google just gave us all a wake-up call," she continued. "They owe us nothing except social responsibility, which is also what they expect from us, and in making this decision I feel that they are not living up to that responsibility."

Another Google+ power user, Mike Elgan who has been circled more than 2 million times, expressed surprise about the announcement, in a post with a photo of a tombstone with a Google Reader logo. Hours later, he offered up a possible solution to the backlash: "Google+ Reader should be baked into Google+."

"Google needs to understand what the enthusiasm for Reader is all about: It's about user-controlled content in a world where everything is increasingly controlled by algorithms," he wrote.

Lawrey told HuffPost she has no doubt Googlers are aware of the backlash to the decision to shut down Reader.

Is Google aware of the outrage? Of course they are. They have the same ability to see what I see, and what I see alone is attention grabbing. But you'll notice how quiet Google is being about it. There's actually a good Corporate reason for that as well. The less said about something, the quicker something might go away. But users of all products - be it a physical product or virtual product -- have very very long memories.

When asked about the Google+ reaction, a Google spokesperson pointed to their official blog post for Google's reasoning and plans for the Reader shutdown, said they'd be communicating directly with users as changes are made, and said they had nothing more to share.

However, one Google employee Google+ Chief Architect Yonatan Zunger did acknowledge the complaints in a Google+ post, asking "what are the aspects of the way Reader works that made it so useful for you?"

He wrote in bold, "Warning: This is not a thread to simply complain about the shutdown, or to ask Google to keep Reader." Zunger added he had no part in the decision and the comment thread wasn't a good place "to get anyone's attention about that."

The rush to complain on Google+ may be ironic in that a former Google Reader product manager posted to Quora that Google+ had a part in Reader's demise.

"I suspect that it survived for some time after being put into maintenance because they believed it could still be a useful source of content into G+," he said.

Google Software Engineer Alan Green wrote in the company's official blog post there were two reasons why Google Reader is coming to an end: "usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we're pouring all of our energy into fewer products."

Google Reader's creator Chris Wetherell told Om Malik why shutting down was basically the only option for Google when it decided it didn't want to operate Reader anymore:

"It was Google Crawler that gave the system ability to make lightning fast connections and also bring up recommendations. It is one of the main reasons it cannot be open sourced. The systems is too intertwined with Google's search and other infrastructure to be sold as well."

The RSS reader, a pioneer in social networking and consuming the news, never went mainstream the way Twitter and Facebook did. HuffPost Tech has compiled a list of alternatives to Reader here.

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