Google+ leaked personal details, will be shut down

Tuesday, 09 Oct, 2018

Google+ received mixed reviews and ratings when Google launched it in 2011 after it retired Google Buzz, another attempt at gaining traction in the social networking world.

The Google+ data breach was discovered in March of this year during an audit of the company's APIs, conducted by a privacy task force codenamed Project Strobe.

The API flaw allowed third-party app developers to access profile and contact information that chose to sign into the apps via Google. It may have leaked user data since 2015 and was apparently found when Google started checking its sites for privacy leaks ahead of the GDPR rollout.

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

Google's own social media platform i.e. Google+ is now shutting down permanently for consumers.

The data exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile pictures, places lived, occupations and relationship status.

Despite the size of the security flaw, Google executives opted not to disclose the problem at the time because they feared trouble from regulators after the intense criticism encountered by Facebook over its privacy woes, according to the Wall Street Journal. He said that given the legal issues Facebook faces over its Cambridge Analytica cover-up, it's not surprising Google tried to keep the leak out of the public eye. Google itself says the issue was quietly resolved in March 2018, but not before third parties obtained private user data off of Google+ profiles.

It was explained that the consumer version of Google+ has low usage and engagement with 90 per cent of user sessions lasting less than five seconds. Google eventually peeled away some of the services most popular features, including Hangout chats and its photo capabilities, into standalone apps. (There are some exceptions-e.g., voicemail and backup apps.) Developers can find more details in the Google Play Developer Policy Center and in the Help Center.

The private data of almost half a million Google+ users was exposed to third-party developers, and Google failed to notify anyone.

The company will wind down Google+ over 10 months, targeting an August 2019 shutdown.

For action 3, this is related to Gmail and is limiting what permissions apps can seek as it relates to Gmail data.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google plans to make announcements in the coming months that provide consumers with additional information such as options to migrate data or download it, the latter likely through Google's Takeout service.