Google announced today that it is shutting down the Google+ social network after the company's engineers found an API bug that might have exposed some private profile data for more than 500,000 Google+ users.
The data of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users were exposed from 2015 through March 2018, when Google discovered and fixed the problem.
The Wall Street Journal, reported that they have reviewed a memo prepared by Google's legal and policy staff, which indicated that disclosing the data breach could lead to scrutiny by government regulatory agencies. The bug in the API allowed the developers to not just access the private, non-public data of the users who signed up as well as people they are connected to. The company adds that it can not confirm how many Google+ users were affected by this bug, but based on a detailed analysis it seems up to 500,000 Google+ accounts have been affected. Google says that there was no evidence that the information was misused, but that a total of 438 apps had access. The social network, which was launched in 2011, was initially supposed to be a response to Facebook and Twitter, but it has ceased to exist outside of a handful of niche communities for years.
"It has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps", wrote Ben Smith, Google's vice president of engineering, in a blog post on Monday. The service will wind down over the next 10 months, with the goal of finishing the shutdown by the end of August 2019.
Google is shutting down the consumer version of Google+ because the social media network isn't worth maintaining, the company said Monday. In fact, 90%of Google+ user sessions only last less than five seconds. The campaign, titled "Don't Shut Down Google Plus", has more than 8,000 signatures at the time of writing.
The only way to fully delete your Google+ account at this time is to completely delete your Google Account, which you can do here.
Google will limit Android apps' ability to access SMS data, call logs, and contacts.
The bug, discovered in March during an internal company review, could have allowed outside software developers - or people posing as outside developers - to learn the names, email addresses, occupations, genders and ages of Google+ users.
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