Google shutting down Google+ for consumers after bug discovery
Google revealed a software glitch of the Google+ social network that gave outside developers potential access to private data of 500,000 Google+ profiles between 2015 and March 2018. The exposed data included names, birth dates, gender, profile photos, relationship status, occupation, places lived and email addresses. Google claims it found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug or that any profile data was misused. The company patched the bug in March 2018, but did not disclose it. According to the Wall Street Journal, a memo prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff that was shared with senior executives warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger ‘immediate regulatory interest’, and cause reputational damage as at the time Facebook was already under investigation following the Cambridge Analytica incident. Google announced that low usage and engagement of Google+ as well as the failure to meet consumers’ expectations prompted the decision to shut down of Google+ for consumers. The shutdown will be implemented in the next ten months (slated to finish in August 2019) and users will be instructed how to download and migrate their data. Google also stated that its review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product, and the company decided to focus on its enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses.