Google to finally shut down Google Plus as massive security breach revealed

Google headquarters in Mountain View California.                  Stephen Shankland  CNET

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.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal published Monday lunchtime, a software glitch within Google+ exposed the private profile data of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users to outside developers.

Smith says in the post that Google+ "has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps". "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", the company said.

Google does not yet have a lead EU Supervisory authority, as the breach apparently happened before the EU's new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), was implemented.

Google found and patched the hole this March and an engineering team had briefed CEO Sundar Pichai on the issue along with its prposed intention to not disclose the vulnerability for fear of government investigation and loss of public trust. It said it would add "more granular" screens for granting permission to access data, and was adding new limits to the data that third-party apps can use.

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However, Google will continue to use Google+ for Enterprise purposes as an internal social network for companies rather than for consumers, saying that it is the most popular use of the social network.

The incident also marks the beginning of the end for Google+, which the company plans to shut down over the next year. In fact, 90%of Google+ user sessions only last less than five seconds. Google fixed the bug on the down low, said nothing, and then moved on.

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.

Google has declined to comment on why it held off reporting the breach.

Because of all of this, Google announced that it would be shutting down Google+ for consumers. The incident was discovered in the same month that it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of 50 million Facebook users. It said it had no evidence that the data was misused or that any developer was aware of it or had exploited the leak.

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