Before Google launched Google+ last year, Google Reader served as the company’s true social network.While Google Reader never grew to hundreds of millions of users, a niche group of people found the service to be a great tool to consume and share content.
“Google had fostered a social network and earned die-hard fans in the most valuable way possible — without trying,” Rob Fishman of BuzzFeed writes.
Users could easily add friends, subscribe to another person’s feed of shared items, and even comment on those items.
Google Reader even helped online friends become real-life friends. As Fishman notes, one user actually became roommates with two people he met using Google Reader.
But Google eventually decided that it needed to reshape the company by challenging Facebook.
When Google launched Google+, it heavily integrated the social network into Reader. As a result of the changes, Google Reader lost its internal social features like friending, following, and sharing. Google forced users to share strictly through Google+.
“When we heard it was going away, it was like the end of the world,” Ramey Moore, a Reader user who met his wife using the service, told Fishman. “It’s like your favourite bar and your favourite restaurant and your favourite newspaper all closing on the same day.”