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She gone: Google+ network closes indefinitely after security breach

10 October 2018

According to Google, a software glitch in the social site could allow outside developers to potentially access private profile data from up to 500,000 accounts from 2015 through March 2018.

Google said it found the bug as part of an internal review called Project Strobe, an audit started earlier this year that examines access to user data from Google accounts by third-party software developers.

The flaw meant some Google profile information that users had thought was private, such as a person's email address, occupation, gender or age, could have been viewed by third parties, the company said in a post on a corporate blog.

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.

If there is a silver lining, phone numbers, email messages, timeline photos, direct messages, or any other type of communication data were not exposed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google+ was launched in June, 2011 as a way to compete with other social networks such as Facebook.

The Journal reported that the Google+ breach exposed Google's "concerted efforts to avoid public scrutiny of how it handles user information" at a time when regulators are the public are trying to do more to hold tech companies to account. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was allegedly briefed on the company's plan not to notify users about the bug.

Google is also going to be limiting access to the apps seeking access to your SMS and Gmail data.

We made Google+ with privacy in mind and therefore keep this API's log data for only two weeks. The company is henceforth shutting down Google+ to consumers. A spokeswoman for Google didn't immediately return a request for further comment.

Google said it was unable to confirm which accounts were affected by the bug, but an analysis indicated it could have been as many as 500,000 Google+ accounts.

The company revealed that the usage and engagement of Google+ is even lower than some might have guessed, as 90 percent of user sessions lasted less than 5 seconds. However, it's possible that data were abused and Google just doesn't know about it yet.

Smith says in the post that Google+ "has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps".

The closure isn't because people are happier using Facebook and Twitter instead of Google's service.

She gone: Google+ network closes indefinitely after security breach