Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Google to shutter Google+ following undisclosed privacy breach

Google to shutter Google+ following undisclosed privacy breach

Google plans to announce a new set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+, effectively ending the product launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook's social media empire the Wall Street Journal reports.

"However, we ran a detailed analysis over the two weeks prior to patching the bug, and from that analysis, the Profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected", Smith said.

The company said in a blog on Monday it had discovered and patched the leak in March of this year and had no evidence of misuse of user data or that any developer was aware or had exploited the vulnerability.

Google says it will give users a 10-month period to transition out of Google+, slated for completion by the end of next August. The company was careful to frame the decision as only affecting the consumer version of Google+, suggesting the data-tying component of the platform will continue to live on as an enterprise feature under the same name.

If there is a silver lining, phone numbers, email messages, timeline photos, direct messages, or any other type of communication data were not exposed, according to the Wall Street Journal. This bug could allow a user's installed apps to utilize the API and access non-public information belonging to that user's friends. By default, Google+ users can grant access to their profile data to third-party apps.

So, instead of sticking with the product, Google chose to shut it down for consumers and turn it into an Enterprise-exclusive product instead.

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Google said it discovered a bug in Google+ that allowed developers of "up to 438 applications" to access personal information from users who had opted to keep that information private.

The company said the bug was located in the Google+ People API. In July, the company was criticized after reports that employees for a third-party email app could read emails if those third-party apps had been integrated with email users' Gmail accounts.

Google is also limiting apps' ability to gain access to users' call log and SMS data on Android devices. Still, outside app makers were not supposed to have access to private profile information.

'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, ' Smith said.

As for consumers, Google is now promising new security rules and tools to avoid a similar goof again.

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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