Google+ Shutting Down After Bug Leaks Info of 500k Accounts

Wednesday, 10 Oct, 2018

Google will retire its Google+ social network after it admitted to finding flaws that may have exposed private data from up to half a million accounts.

The discovery of the bug occurred round about the same time the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and Facebook surfaced.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has agreed to testify before Congress in the coming weeks, according to the Journal.

Smith said Google+ would wind down over the next ten months, during which time users will be able to download or migrate their data, and the site would be permanently retired in August 2019. March was when a software bug was fixed that allowed third-party developers to access personal data. In addition, Google is limiting the ability of Android apps to obtain Call Log and SMS permissions on Android devices, and is no longer allowing access to contact interaction data through the Android Contacts API. The error allowed the details of nearly 500,000 people to be accessed by the applications, even when they had demanded that they keep their data private.

The company said in an official blog post that it had discovered and patched the leak in March and had no evidence that data has been misused or anyone had exploited it. Up to 496,951 users could have been affected, and up to 438 apps could have accessed the data. As for why it's being shut down, Google says that Google+ has "low usage and engagement", with 90 percent of G+ user sessions lasting less than five seconds.

Shortly after the report was published, Google announced that it would be shutting down Google+ for consumers, seven years after it was launched, citing the incident as part of the cause. Thankfully, according to Google, no developer was aware of the bug, was misusing the Google+ API, or had misused private data from users' profiles.

The company said the bug was located in the Google+ People API.

Given the potential for abuse, and the fact that nearly no one is using Google+, Alphabet opted to take the path of least resistance and yank the doddering network off life support.

Google is at the centre of controversy this morning over a report of a massive user data breach that occurred a year ago, with the result that they will be introducing finer grain controls to limit access to user data on the web and Android - and also shutdown Google+ for consumers.

Applications tailored to augment Gmail will also face new rules regarding data handling and be subject to security assessments, according to the company.