Google has announced in a blog post they will wind down Google+, following the Wall street journal’s report of a bug that exposed the personal information of up to 500,000 people using the social network.
Following a brief moment of popularity in 2011 when it came out, Google + has more or less been “a placeholder” in the scheme of social networks; with 90 per cent of Google+ user sessions lasting for only less than five seconds.
Google’s response was that they dealt with the bug in March 2018 after learning of its existence, but did not inform users to avoid “immediate regulatory interest”.
Although the bug appeared to have been active between 2015-2018, Google has reported that it doesn’t appear that any third-party developers were aware of the bug, or misused it in any way.
“Our Privacy & Data Protection Office reviewed this issue, looking at the type of data involved, whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response. None of these thresholds were met in this instance.” Project Strobe: Protecting your data, improving our third-party APIs, and sunsetting consumer Google+, Oct. 8th 2018
So what happened?
Apparently, one of Google+’s People APIs allowed 438 external apps to obtain users’ names, email addresses, occupations, and genders and ages, even on fields that users had marked as ‘private’.
Google will be closing down the service over a 10-month period, but will still use Google + for Enterprise purposes.