Thanks for “@Marshable”
After Google unceremoniously announced it would be killing Reader later this year, much of the outraged response focused on its use in the U.S. But there’s a whole other aspect ..
But there’s a whole other aspect to the service: for thousands of users around the world, it’s one of the few ways they can get around their country’s censors.
A “save Google Reader” petition hosted by Change.org has received 125,000 signatures so far. And as Change.org revealed to Mashable Monday, 75% of those signatures come from users outside the U.S. — and 12% of them total say they live in countries that Reporters Without Borders or the OpenNet Initiative report say have active Internet censorship by government forces.
“Here in Kazakhstan, many blog services are banned by government, so Google Reader is one of the easy ways to access banned content,” writes one signatory, Yaroslav Sedyshev. “I’m using it every day and I’d be very upset if it’s no longer available.”
“Google Reader is my only Internet, guys,” wrote a petition signer in Belarus.
A number of Chinese signatories claim they have access to Reader, despite Google at large being blocked by the Great Firewall of China. “Google Reader is important as dinner to me,” wrote one. “Please don’t let it go,” begged another.
And then there’s the one country where Google Reader may be the most vital: Iran, which has long threatened to build its own domestic Intranet. As Quartz points out, Reader is enormously popular in Iran.
Google’s vast and secure server farms, with multiple redundancies, are apparently easier for the average Iranian user to access (and harder for the censors to block) than those of competitors such as Feed.ly.
“Looks like there’s a dark side to the Google Reader story,” writes Charlotte Hill, a spokesperson for Change.org. “People living under repressive regimes use the service to access information untouched by government censors.
“If Google Reader goes, they say, so will uncensored news and views from around the world.”
Are you using Reader to access news in a country that condones censorship? Do you think its competitors’ servers are robust enough to withstand the censors? Let us know in the comments.