Google+ is officially shutting down

A bug in Google+ exposed the data of hundreds of thousands. Google covered it

A bug in Google+ exposed the data of hundreds of thousands. Google covered

The Wall Street Journal was first to report about the Google+ data vulnerability Monday, pointing out in its report that the company chose not to disclose its findings when it first discovered and patched the bug in March. The company found no evidence the information was misused by any developers, Smith said. Exposed data included names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status. A bug was found in addition to that all that allowed access to profile files that Google+ users shared with contacts that were not public. In a prepared statement, the firm said its review confirmed what it was already aware of - Google+ failed to capture a significant number of users and developers, so it consequently isn't worth keeping afloat. The company noted that information like Google+ posts, messages and G Suite content weren't included in the exposure.

But the decision to shut down Google+ seems largely due to a previously undisclosed security breach that exposed users' profile data.

Shortly after the report was published, Google announced that it would be shutting down Google+ for consumers, seven years after it was launched, citing the incident as part of the cause.

Although the bug was discovered many months ago, Google didn't disclose it right away.

In addition to the sunsetting of Google+, Project Strobe brings in new, more granular controls over the data Android and Gmail users share with apps. The office looks at what data was taken, what affected users need to be informed, if there was any evidence of data abuse, and whether or not users could effectively respond.

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It said a bug in its software meant information that people believed was private had been accessible by third parties. Instead of seeing a single screen asking for permission to use your Google account, you'll now see individual pop-up boxes for each item an app is requesting access to with an explanation of what's being requested.

That will include fresh limits around Android apps to access Call Log and SMS permissions, while the Android Contacts API will now no longer allow contact interaction data to be accessed.

Writing in a blog post Monday, Google attempted to downplay the incident, saying it hasn't found any signs that the bug was exploited.

It plans to shutdown Google+ for consumers over the course of the next 10 months, with the platform officially retiring in August 2019. The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: "90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

The announcement comes as public scrutiny has intensified around Silicon Valley tech giants' management of user data, among other issues.

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