The worst part about the Google+ breach was the silence

Google exposed user data, chose not to tell public - WSJ

Google has announced that its consumer service Google + is to be shuttered after a security bug in it revealed the data of around 500 000 users to external developers between 2015 and 2018. The Wall Street Journal's Douglas MacMillan and Robert McMillan report that Google was anxious about public perception and regulatory scrutiny, and that Google wanted to avoid comparisons with Facebook, which at the time was dealing with its own data privacy scandal.

Facebook has been under heavy scrutiny about its privacy policy after a British data mining firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of illegally accessing the data of 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge. Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, the people said.

"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. Over the course of this slow shutdown, they'll let you know of ways to download and migrate your data from it.

The company is also stressing its commitment to security - now offering "more fine-grained control" of what account data Google users share with third-party apps. Third-party SMS apps will still be allowed, but they can only access this data if the user sets the app as their default for text messaging. The company, however, can not confirm which users were affected by the bug when it was active from 2015 to 2018.

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Going forward, Google could face legal action for its failure to report the security breach to the public. When a user granted a developer permission to their profile, any of the data related to that profile could be collected by the developer.

Google+ was created in 2011 and never seemed to gain much traction in the social media sphere, and eventually Google turned it into the underlying account infrastructure connecting its various Google software products, so you might not even realize if you're a member. The company is henceforth shutting down Google+ to consumers. An internal Google memo said that if it reported the issue, it would result in Google "coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal".

Google also said it would begin restricting the data it provides to outside developers. In fact, usage is pretty minimal on the site, with "90 percent of Google + user sessions" being "less than five seconds".

Google says it will give users a 10-month period to transition out of Google+, slated for completion by the end of next August.

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