December 11, 2018

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

12 October 2018, 11:44 | Megan Pierce

Google headquarters in Mountain View California. Stephen Shankland CNET

Google headquarters in Mountain View California.                  Stephen Shankland  CNET

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.

According to Google, data that may have potentially been disclosed only includes "static, optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age". To make sure something like this Google+ leak doesn't happen again, this new initiative is set out to protect user's privacy and limit the amount of data developers have access to across the web and Android. The company has now made a decision to shut down the seven-year-old service that was initially launched as a direct take on Facebook.

The issue with Google's actions over the Google+ data breach, however, was not with how it fixed the bug, as it did so right away. But Google says it has no way of confirming these numbers or which users may have had their data exposed improperly.

The vice president of engineering, Ben Smith, confirmed in a 'Safety and Security' blog post that the company had detected a security bug in March that impacted the profiles of close to half a million users and their information. "These tools ... can be misused by unscrupulous actors posing as app developers to gain access to sensitive personal data", the Journal noted.

Earlier, the company had been reluctant to share data on how often Google+ was used, but now, facing the fall out of exposed data, the firm appears keen to play down its importance.

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As many as 438 outside apps may have connected with the flawed software.

Following the news that a Google Plus security breach resulted in the exposure of 500,000 people's private information, the search engine giant has said it will be shutting down its social network for consumers.

Further speaking on the issue, Google has said that they have no evidence that any outside developer has misused users private data.

But it's not doing so exclusively out of concern for users' privacy: Smith admitted the network is not a success, saying "The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

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