Google+ to shut down after breach involving 500,000 users

Google+ to shut down after breach involving 500,000 users

SAN FRANCISCO: Google announced Monday it is shutting down the consumer version of its online social network after fixing a bug exposing private data in as many as 500,000 accounts.

San Francisco: Internet giant Google has said it is shutting down the consumer version of its own social networking site Google+ due to low usage and a bug discovered in March previous year that could leak the data of about half a million of its users.

The real concern here is that Google reportedly became aware of the security glitch several months ago but failed to disclose the issue due to "fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage".

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the bug in the Google+ API existed between 2015 and March 2018, which was when Google discovered and fixed the bug.

The flaw meant some Google profile information that users had thought was private, such as a person's email address, occupation, gender or age, could have been viewed by third parties, the company said in a post on a corporate blog. Google found the issue with their API back in March but chose to ignore it and not report it to the regulatory bodies. "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", the company said. Google CEO Sundar Pichai knew of the decision not to disclose the breach and agreed with it, saying that disclosing could see Google "coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal".

More news: Facebook warning users about a viral hoax

The company also admitted the low engagement statistics of Google+.

So the company felt that the site simply wasn't worth maintaining between its minimal traffic and its security threats, hence the ten-month period for users to migrate whatever data they need before it's taken offline in August 2019.

As part of the announcement, Google also promised to give users "more fine-grained control over what account data they choose to share with each app". The software flaw affected how the social network, created to rival Facebook but never seriously challenging it, interacted with third-party applications. In a blog post by the company highlighting its findings, it's stated that 90 percent of all Google+ visits last fewer than five seconds. But those apps look downright buoyant compared with Google's own confessed numbers for Google+.

This is exceedingly poor form from one of the biggest software houses and personal data brokers on the planet.

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