Google Shutters Google+ Following Privacy Vulnerability

The Google app logo is seen on a smartphone in this illustration

In a prepared statement, the firm said its review confirmed what it was already aware of - Google+ failed to capture a significant number of users and developers, so it consequently isn't worth keeping afloat. Google found that no one was using it, saying that "Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

It said a bug in its software meant information that people believed was private had been accessible by third parties.

Affected data included Google+ profile information like names, email addresses, occupations, gender and age information, but no personal messages, according to the company, which added that it didn't find any evidence that any developer actually exploited the bug to access any of this information.

Finding 4: When users grant SMS, Contacts and Phone permissions to Android apps, they do so with certain use cases in mind.

In response to the breach, Google is shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+. The API was created to only keep logs for two week periods. "The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds", the company said in a statement.

Google said Monday that it will phase out Google+ over the next ten months.

So, quite a few security and privacy changes were announced here.

Upon discovering the bug, Google patched it, but opted not to disclose it to the public out of fear of regulatory pressure and unfavorable comparisons to Facebook's Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

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Google said up to 500,000 users had been affected.

Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, sources told the WSJ.

Google admitted in the blog post disclosing the bug that usage of Google+ has dropped off in recent years.

"This review crystallized what we've known for a while: that while our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps".

While Google+ will no longer be a consumer product, new features will be coming soon to turn it into an enterprise-focused platform.

The announcement comes as public scrutiny has intensified around Silicon Valley tech giants' management of user data, among other issues.

To make the closure of the service as seamless as possible, Google says it'll implement a "wind-down" period over the next 10 months with the goal to have everyone off Google+ and officially pull the plug by the end of August 2019.

Google has thus far been able to defer much of the criticism to Facebook and Twitter, but the Google+ bug may thrust it further into the spotlight.

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