It didn't take long after Google announced that it is killing off Google Reader to realize how much the product will be missed by quite a few people. Even the alternatives are having trouble keeping up with the demand from users.
Various petitions were immediately started, including some at Change.org. One of them is already nearing 130,000 supporters. There seems to be a common misconception that only journalists, bloggers, and techies are really using RSS anyway, but as signatures on the petitions indicate, that's not necessarily the case.
"Looks like there’s a dark side to the Google Reader story," a spokesperson from Change.org tells WebProNews. "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."
We saw some reports to this effect last week, specifically about Iran, but, Change.org is sharing some interesting stats about its signatures. For example, 75% of Google Reader petition signatures on Change.org came from outside the U.S. 12% of signatures came from people living within countries that Reporters Without Borders and/or the OpenNet Initiative report have active internet censorship by government forces, the spokesperson says.
"At least 2% of signatures came from people living in countries that Reporters Without Borders calls 'Enemies of the Internet' – a moniker earned 'not just for their capacity to censor news and information online but also for their almost systematic repression of Internet users.'" she says.
Here are a few sample comments from the biggest petition:
“Google Reader is important as dinner to me. Since Great Fire Wall blocks infomations between China and others, Reader is the best way to get uncensored news.” – petition signer in China
“I can't read some livejournal without googlereader, because it's forbbiden in my country.” – petition signer in Kazakhstan
“Thats all I have in web world. through that I can use a lot of internet, I can have a little free internet, our government has banned a lot of sites, reader is our last chance...” – petition signer in Iran
“I'm a chinese, I can get news which is not censored without google reader .So please don't close it!” – petition signer in China
“That's the only possible way to read posts from blocked sites” – petition signer in Kazakhstan
“Google reader is my only Internet, guys.” – petition signer in Belarus
“Google Reader is essential for many Chinese Web users like me to circumvent Internet censorship here. Love the product. Please don't let it go.” – petition signer in China
“There was a time that reader was my only way to keep my self update with the censored internet of Iran.” – petition signer in Iran
Feedly revealed on Friday that it had already signed up over 500,000 Google Reader users since Google made the announcement. And that was three days ago.