Google shutting down social network Google+ after security bug disclosed

Google exposed personal data of almost 500,000 and didn't disclose it
Google Shutters Google+ Following Privacy Vulnerability
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11 October, 2018

A memo reviewed by the Journal prepared by Google's legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger "immediate regulatory interest" and invite comparisons to Facebook's leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Google said it patched the bug in March this year, and Smith said Google found no evidence that any developer was aware of the bug or had abused the API.

While Google says there is no clear misuse of profile data that occurred as a result of this breach, MacMillan of the Journal says it raises questions about the company's commitment to user privacy.

Google responded by shutting down Google+ by next August, pulling the plug on a social network that it launched in 2011, in response to Facebook, but is widely regarded as a flop.

Smith says in the post that Google+ "has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps". The bug gave apps access to information on a person's Google+ profile that can be marked as private. "Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we chose to sunset the consumer version of Google+".

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However, Google will continue to use Google+ for Enterprise purposes as an internal social network for companies rather than for consumers, saying that it is the most popular use of the social network. The company was the target of a massive class action lawsuit in the United Kingdom after 4 million users had their personal data collected and allegedly used for targeted advertising.

Luckily though, if you want to jump ship before Google formally shuts down the social network, there's an easy way to check if you're signed up - and delete your account.

According to WSJ sources, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan only after the decision not to inform the public was made - riiiiight.

Users' details were exposed due to an error in a feature that allowed people to link their Google+ profile with other applications. The bug has reportedly existed since 2015, and Google does not know if the information has been used. The measures are part of what Google is calling Project Strobe, which is "a root-and-branch review of third-party developer access to Google account and Android device data and of our philosophy around apps' data access".


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