Google Reader Ending Helps Iranian Government Oppress Its People

by
Owen Poindexter
Google Reader is ending, and while Americans won't notice much, this is a huge loss for Iranians, who use Google Reader to get around internet censorship by the Iranian government.

Google Reader is ending, and while Americans won't notice much, this is a huge loss for Iranians, who use Google Reader to get around internet censorship by the Iranian government. Google Reader is an RSS feed: it aggregates news sources and blogs picked by each individual user. There are a zillion RSS feeds out there on the internet, but Google Reader is somewhat unique in that when someone reads a piece on Google Reader, the information comes from google's own servers, not the servers of the original news source. That means to shut down Google Reader, Iran would have to shut down all of Google, something it has done from time to time, but only temporarily. Iranians have long used Google Reader to read articles that would otherwise be blocked to them by the government.

Google's first principle is "don't be evil." While the shuttering of Reader is meant for efficiency's sake, and is not part of any discernable attempt to be evil, the ripple effect of the move will help evil (Iranian censorship) maintain itself. Perhaps they could keep Google Reader somewhere in the background of the internet so that Iranians may continue to stay abreast of the news, regardless of what their repressive government wants.

 

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