Google+ shuts down after massive data exposure of 500,000 users
Google has announced that its dedicate social media service, Google+, will be shutting owing to a major data exposure. Back in March, the company inadvertently exposed data of nearly 500,000 users owing to a bug in one of its APIs for developers. Though the bug was fixed immediately after being discovered, the users were not informed until yesterday. Here's more about it.
Data exposed to developers
The bug, as the company said in a blog post, was a software vulnerability that provided developers access to Google+ data between 2015 and 2018. This included every piece of information related to profiles like name, email, profile photo, birth date, gender, places lived, occupation, and relationship status. However, more confidential data like messages, Google+ posts, G suite content, phone numbers were not exposed.
Who were affected? Was the data misused?
Though Google patched the bug and predicted the scale of its effect, it couldn't determine or notify the affected users because logs for this particular API were kept only for two weeks. Further, the investigation led by its Privacy and Data Protection Office did note there's was no evidence of developers being aware of the bug or abusing it in any way.
Why Google kept the exposure from users
As Google revealed this exposure months after detecting it, people are wondering what stopped the company from making it public earlier. Wall Street Journal, which first reported this exposure, stated the company kept it under the wraps to avoid regulatory scrutiny. It also obtained a document that said disclosure could risk bringing "Google into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook."
Google Plus to shut, enterprise version to stay
The exposure and poor engagement of Google+ is marking its demise. Google has said the consumer version of the service will be shuttered over the course of the next 10 months, ending in August. During this time, users will be given options to download and migrate their data. However, the enterprise version of the service will continue to serve and get new features.