Google+ will be shut down following security bug

Google shuts down Google+ after a massive data breach which potentially leaked information of over 500,000 users

Google feared disclosure would invite comparison to Facebook's leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica, the Journal reported, adding that Chief Executive Sundar Pichai had been briefed on the issue.

After the Wall Street Journal revealed that Google accidentally exposed the private information of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users over the period of three years, you might not feel so comfortable having a Google+ account anymore, even though Google plans to shut down the service.

'Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we made a decision to sunset the consumer version of Google+'.

The vulnerability worked like this: one user would be able to share those intimate details with friends they choose who are on the network. Similarly, there was no evidence that any profile data was stolen, sold, or otherwise misused.

Google came under criticism for refusing to send a top executive to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on September 5 about efforts to counteract foreign influence in U.S. elections and political discourse.

What's more, the company will "sunset" the Google+ social network in an operation called Project Strobe.

"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", Google said in a blog post.

Google said a software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between a major redesign in 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue.

The demise of Google+ also came as a result of a bug discovered past year but acknowledged for the first time by Google on Monday, and the flaw in one of its Google+ "People APIs" exposed some private user data to third-party developers, including such information as the occupations, genders, ages, and email addresses of many users.

Google is also limiting apps' ability to gain access to users' call log and SMS data on Android devices.

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 organising Gmail messages.

A spokeswoman for Google said that whenever user data may have been affected it determines whether to tell people based on a number of criteria.

Google admitted in the blog post disclosing the bug that usage of Google+ has dropped off in recent years.

"The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google user sessions are less than five seconds", the company said. From that point forward, G+ will continue on as an enterprise product, where many companies seem to use it heavily.

To make the closure of the service as seamless as possible, Google says it'll implement a "wind-down" period over the next 10 months with the goal to have everyone off Google+ and officially pull the plug by the end of August 2019.

Google's announcement doesn't specifically state how many people are actually using Google+, only saying that it's "low".

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