Google+, Google’s social network, to shut down after bug exposes users’ data

Posted October 10, 2018

Google neglected to report the breach to the public, allegedly out of fear that the company would face regulations and damage to its reputation, according to sources and documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal. The bug disclosed on Monday, introduced in a software update, exposed private data including name, email address, occupation, gender and age, Google said.

In the blog post, Google said it did not immediately announce the problems with Google+ because it was not sure which users were affected, whether the data had been misused and what affected users could do to protect themselves.

Launched in 2011, Google Plus was supposed to be a challenger to Facebook, which now has more than two billion users.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ireland's data protection regulator said it would seek more information from Google regarding the breach. As for why it's being shut down, Google says that Google+ has "low usage and engagement", with 90 percent of G+ user sessions lasting less than five seconds.

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Google found the bug in March and repaired it, according to a Google blog post. Google executives were concerned about appearances, particularly as Facebook is under fire after an analytics firm allegedly misused the data of tens of millions of users. "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", wrote Ben Smith, a Google vice president of engineering.

A Google Australia spokesperson was unable to say how many local users were affected by the flaw, saying: "Every year, we send millions of notifications to users about privacy and security bugs and issues".

That breach left the personal information of about 500,000 users exposed, and was caused by a bug on a People API on Google+.

Moffitt added that consumers should be aware that connecting apps in social media platforms "only increases the amount of valuable information that could potentially be breached, as well as increasing attack vectors that hackers can leverage". But people absolutely do not agree to whatever arrangements those companies make with outside parties to pass along personal information or data.

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If you don't see the downgrade page and instead see an upgrade page, you have already deleted your Google+ profile (or didn't have one).

However, if 10 months is too long a wait, here's all you need to know about how to check whether you have a Google Plus account and how to delete it now.

These latest changes are also being implemented as part of a larger crackdown, in which the search giant is seeking to review and curb "third-party developer access to Google account and Android device data and of our philosophy around apps' data access".

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