Google+ to shut down after security bug

Google to shut down Google+ after users’ data exposed

Google said it's pulling the plug on its unpopular Google+ social network after admitting to a software bug that exposed the personal information of as many as 500,000 users.

Google is expected to announce the breach on Monday, as well as its plans shut down Google+, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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. The company stated in its post that there was no evidence "that any developer was aware of this bug, or. that any Profile data was misused".

The same month that the bug was discovered, Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data scandal came to light, prompting politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to call for hearings and regulation. And Google confirmed that in today's blog post, noting that 90-percent of user sessions on Google+ lasted just five seconds or less. Google rather famously snubbed the United States Senate Intelligence Committee when it made a decision to no-show a hearing on consumer privacy issues, a hearing that both Facebook and Twitter sent top leaders to.

Google Plus was also very user friendly, allowing people to share announcements with friends very easily.

Meanwhile, Google planned to add new workplace-oriented features to enhance the appeal of Google+ as a "secure corporate social network" to be used inside business operations.

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"Our review showed that our Google+ APIs, and the associated controls for consumers, are challenging to develop and maintain".

Google said a glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between a major redesign in 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue.

Google chose not to disclose the flaw out of concern it would trigger regulatory backlash, especially in the wake of criticism against Facebook for its privacy failures, according to the Wall Street Journal, which initially reported the news on Monday (Tuesday NZT). A Google spokesman says that while the company was trying to decide whether or not to go public about the security breach, the company took into consideration "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".

Google also said it would begin restricting the data it provides to outside developers.

Even with the data patched, Google has advised they will be shutting down Google+ for consumers. The change makes it so users must individually grant or deny each permission to access data in their consumer Google account, rather than accept or deny permissions all at the same time.

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