Decides to Shut Down Google+

Google Plus

Google announced today that it is shutting down the Google+ social network after the company's engineers found an API bug that might have exposed some private profile data for more than 500,000 Google+ users.

The review found no misuse of the data and the problem was fixed in March, but the company's privacy and data protection office said the vulnerability didn't meet the threshold of security issues to notify users of the data breach. A report in the Wall Street Journal says Google did not disclose this information sooner because it feared regulatory scrutiny.

Google, however, claims that there is "no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API" and that is has "found no evidence that any Profile data was misused".

Google is also said to working on improving security elsewhere, including restricting developer access to things such as SMS, call logs, and contact data on Android and add-ons for Gmail. The bug allowed for developers that had access to Google+'s API to access information of users that gave permission to the program. The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: "90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".




As part of its response to the incident, the Alphabet Inc. unit plans to announce a sweeping set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+, the people said. But Google says it has no way of confirming these numbers or which users may have had their data exposed improperly.

Even with the data patched, Google has advised they will be shutting down Google+ for consumers. However, it's likely you are - if you have a Google account, you've probably been given a Google+ account by default. Up to 496,951 users could have been affected, and up to 438 apps could have accessed the data. Google CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly is expected to take the hot seat in another congressional hearing after the U.S. midterm elections in November.

When Google+ launched in 2011, it was envisioned as a possible rival to Facebook, The Associated Press reported. The decision stems from Project Strobe, an internal effort started earlier this year with the goal of reviewing third-party developer access to Android and Google Account data.

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