Beware Chrome’s follow button?

“Beware the awful avalanche.” ~ Longfellow

By now you’ve probably heard Google’s testing an RSS follow button in Chrome that lets readers follow blogs, etc. and read those articles in a new “Following” tab in the browser.

At first glance it’s great news — anything that helps readers follow blogs can only help, right?

The problem is this is Google we’re talking about… The same hegemonic tech company who killed off the extremely popular Google (RSS) Reader in a failed effort to herd us towards their doomed Google+ social network.

This is the same Google that tried to shove their ignoble AMP crap down our throats in the guise of furthering their search engine dominance. It’s also the same Google who is trying to monopolize email delivery through their Gmail service by forcing us to dance around their promotions folder and filters to get in touch with our very own readers.

So while I love the idea of making it as frictionless as possible for readers to follow our blogs, I’m wary of Google’s past of luring people in and then sinking their monopolistic claws into us, forcing sites to do things their way or lose followers (or relevance or SEO juice or what not).

You know the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”?

Exactly how I feel.

☞ UPDATE: After I finished writing this, I see that Scott Nesbitt opined with his excellent (and more reasoned than mine, for sure) thoughts on Google’s RSS follow button:

Unlike some of the doomsayers, I don’t believe that the Follow button will kill RSS, either. The Follow button in Chrome has little or anything to do with RSS. In some ways, it seems to be an attempt by Google to replace or supplant RSS rather than being a direct existential threat to RSS. 

That’s not to say that the Follow button is innocuous. It has the potential to be very dangerous. [ … ] when you tap the button, an algorithm is also making suggestions. That can quickly build a filter bubble around you, pushing misinformation and the like your way. [ … ] Worse, you don’t have any control over what’s pushed your way unlike the control that you have with RSS.

Read the rest from his delicious newsletter at Weekly Musings (tip ‘o the hat to Kev Quirk).


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