Google shutting down social network Google+ after security bug disclosed

Ruben Fields
October 10, 2018

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users, from 2015 through early 2018. According to an internal memo viewed by the Wall Street Journal, Google feared disclosing the issue would be detrimental to its reputation and draw unwanted regulatory attention.

Google also admitted that a privacy bug back in March gave more than 400 third-party applications access to users' names, email addresses, occupations, genders and ages without authorization.

Google said it's pulling the plug on its unpopular Google+ social network after admitting to a software bug that exposed the personal information of as many as 500,000 users. The company also announced new limits to the information, such as call logs, that outsider developers can gather on Android, the Google operating system used by most of the world's smartphones.

Smith said that when users grant permissions to access SMS, Contacts and Phone data to apps, they do so with specific use cases in mind, again indicating that the present policies have given developers overly broad access to people's information. Users (whoever they might be) have had plenty of time to download and migrate their data before the platform's final days arrive in August of next year.

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The Google+ vulnerability was discovered at a time that nearly coincided with the notorious privacy leakage scandal of the world's largest social media network Facebook, which has been widely criticized for its failure to protect its users' private data. To make matters worse, Google decided not to share knowledge of the data breach when it was discovered in March. "Earlier this year, right at the time they discovered this, the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data breach had just happened, there's a lot of regulator scrutiny of Facebook and tech companies and how they're handling data, and internally, they were anxious about being pulled into this conversation in a bigger way".

Monday's report comes in the wake of Google CEO Sundar Pichai upcoming testimony before Congress over concerns the search engine is bias against conservatives. However, it's possible that data were abused and Google just doesn't know about it yet.

Webroot senior threat research analyst Tyler Moffitt says, "Although it seems that Google has shut down an entire line of business due to this breach, from a GDPR perspective, the company appears to have gotten off lightly".

In an unexpected blog posted today, Google revealed it was closing the rather unpopular social network Google+.

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