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

09 October, 2018, 22:14 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • Google exposed user data, chose not to tell public - WSJ

After seven highly unsuccessful years, Google+ is effectively dead.

News of the bug sent shares of Google's parent company, Alphabet, down as much as 2.2 percent to $1,142.43 on Monday afternoon.

As for what info was exposed, it's reported that "full names, email address, birth dates, gender, profile photos, placed lived, occupation, and relationship status" were all up for grabs. In addition, Google is limiting the ability of Android apps to obtain Call Log and SMS permissions on Android devices, and is no longer allowing access to contact interaction data through the Android Contacts API. Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers, or G Suite content were not accessible. The company found no evidence the information was misused by any developers, Smith said.

Google said it had reviewed the issue, looking at the type of data involved, whether it 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. As part of that, a bug in Google + was found that could have been a potential leak if it wasn't caught in time.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news of the software bug, reporting that Google chose to not disclose the problem "because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage".

Google's attempt at a social network was never particularly popular - and became even less so when it admitted that 500,000 users may have had their data exposed. The company, however, can not confirm which users were affected by the bug when it was active from 2015 to 2018.

Google+ is an Internet-based social network that was launched in June 2011 and is owned and operated by Google.


It also announced other security features. When a user granted a developer permission to their profile, any of the data related to that profile could be collected by the developer.

Android data access is being restricted to app developers. Previous reports have found that some third-party Gmail add-on developers were reading users' emails, supposedly to improve their algorithms. By the company's reckoning, up to 438 applications may have been able to access private profile data because of the software bug.

During the next 10 months, Google will provide consumers with "additional information" regarding ways they can download or migrate their data to other social media platforms if they so desire.

"We have many enterprise customers who are finding great value in using Google+ within their companies", the internet firm said.

Many have long suspected that Google+ was in its final days, but nearly no-one could have predicted it would end like this.

"The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers' expectations", Ben Smith, vice president of engineering, wrote in a blog post. "Underlining this, as part of our Project Strobe audit, we discovered a bug in one of the Google+ People APIs", Google said in its announcement.

Many people probably aren't aware if they even have a Google+ account - here's how to check.

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