Google+ is Dead, Survived By Better Privacy Controls

Google hit by data leak charges after Facebook accused of hiding it from users

The bug is said to have affected as many as 500,000 accounts, though the company says it found "no evidence" that any data was actually misused.

Google also noted that the data that was exposed was limited to "optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age". An internal review called Project Strobe discovered a bug in one of the site's APIs which granted access to information on a users' profile which hadn't been marked as public.

The company said it didn't report the breach partly due to fears of regulatory scrutiny. There were no phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data.

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

Apps will be required to inform users what data they will have access to.

According to the WSJ, Google chose not to divulge the data breach because "the incident would likely trigger "immediate regulatory interest" and invite comparisons to Facebook's leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica". Either way, the news casts a shadow over the Pixel event, and completely distracts from the other small but useful tweaks the company released today regarding privacy, in particular the fact that it is now rolling out more granular Google account permissions.

In any case, the conclusion is the same: Google is shutting down the consumer version of Google+, citing challenges in maintaining the service effectively.

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Google+ has been largely forgotten for a few years now, not just by its users, but also by the team that had been working on the platform.

"We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused", Ben Smith, the vice-president of engineering, wrote in the blogpost. In the aftermath of what appears to have been a major security flaw within Google+, the company ended up not disclosing the breach of information to its users. It analyzed third-party developers' access to Google account and Android device data to measure whether permissions were overly broad.

Several policies Google introduced on Monday are created to curb the data accessible to developers offering mobile apps on the Google Play store or add-on apps for sending and organizing Gmail messages.

United States lawmakers are concerned that the big tech companies have come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons in recent years. The service, Smith said, failed both in consumer adoption and engagement with apps: "90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

Google+ will be shut down over a 10-month period, concluding in August 2019, as Google admits that it never gained the traction they had hoped.

Android data access is being restricted to app developers.

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