Google Shutters Google+ Following Privacy Vulnerability

Isaac Cain
October 12, 2018

Reuters Tech giant Google has said that its social network Google will be shut down after it was discovered that a bug exposed private data of up to 500,000 users to external developers.

A report in the Wall Street Journal said the company knew about the matter in March but did not disclose it, because it did not want to expose itself to scrutiny by the regulator.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Google executives opted against notifying users earlier because of concerns it would catch the attention of regulators and draw comparisons to a data privacy scandal at Facebook.

The data exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile pictures, places lived, occupations and relationship status. The company stated in its post that there was no evidence "that any developer was aware of this bug, or. that any Profile data was misused".

Smith says in the post that Google+ "has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps".

This sounds like a fairly easy thing to fix, but Google apparently decided its little social media site that never quite made it wasn't worth the effort.

Google did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

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The issue with Google's actions over the Google+ data breach, however, was not with how it fixed the bug, as it did so right away.

The issue apparently came about when a user granted permission to an app, allowing it to access their public data. But those apps look downright buoyant compared with Google's own confessed numbers for Google+.

Google+ will be closing down in August next year, however the company said it was looking at continuing an enterprise version of the product with greater user controls. As a result all European Union data protection authorities have jurisdiction to engage with Google on the breach.

The decision to shutter Google+ is also a part of a bigger initiative by the search engine known as "Project Strobe".

Google says that 90 per cent of Google+ user sessions lasted for less than five seconds.

The WSJ report and Google blog both agree that Google discovered the bug in spring of 2018, although the motivation for what happened afterwards differs.

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