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. According to a report published Monday by The Wall Street Journal, the vulnerability wasn't disclosed because Google didn't want to be subjected to regulatory scrutiny from lawmakers. Google claims it didn't report the incident right away as it didn't find any evidence of misuse of the profile data by any of the app developers. Google itself says the issue was quietly resolved in March 2018, but not before third parties obtained private user data off of Google+ profiles.
Google+ was launched in June, 2011 as a way to compete with other social networks such as Facebook. Just like with Facebook and Twitter, Google+ users can also allow a third-party app to access the public profile information of a user's friends.
"The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds", said Google, which is headquartered in Mountain View in northern California, Xinhua reported.
The consumer functionality of Google+ will be closing over a 10 month period, while Google transitions the product to be used internally by the Enterprise.
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Google has admitted that adoption of the its social network and subsequent user engagement has been low, with 90% of Google+ user sessions lasting for less than five seconds. In the meantime, Google says users should stay tuned for more information on how to download their data from the site, should they so desire.
With that said, it's not likely that Google+ will be sorely missed, although it's certainly worth noting that it's shutting down. So a group of the company's executives ruled that the firm should stay quiet about the flaw, and reportedly informed Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, of their decision.
One of the changes that Google is making to help give users even more control over their data is more in-depth permission dialog boxes.
The WSJ reported that the exposure dates back to 2015, although the company didn't comment on how long information was exposed. Also the software giant also mentioned that they are no proof whether this bug in the Google+ software was known by any outside developer.