Google Plus to close after bug leaks personal information

Todd Singleton
October 9, 2018

Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal reported Google discovered the flaw, which exposed the data of thousands of users, earlier this year. Google said the bug hasn't affected the personal data but is investigating the issue.

The information exposed in the Google+ data breach included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation, and relationship status.

The company announced on its blog on Monday that data from up to 500,000 users may have been exposed to external developers by a bug that was present for more than two years in its systems.

According to the WSJ report, Google executive leadership did know about the bug yet chose to not report it immediately due to concerns over regulatory scrutiny. "By giving developers more explicit rules of the road, and helping users control your data, we can ensure that we keep doing just that", reads the blog.

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, according to WSJ.

Many have long suspected that Google+ was in its final days, but nearly no-one could have predicted it would end like this.

No matter how much you use social media, you probably haven't used Google+ very often, if at all.

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The exposure was the result of a flaw in programming interfaces Google made available to developers of applications that interacted with users' Google+ profiles, Google officials said in a post published after the WSJ report.

Finding 1: There are significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ product that meets consumers' expectations.

In March, a security audit revealed a software bug that gave third-party apps access to Google+ private profile data people meant to share only with friends.

Additionally, as part of the Android Contacts permission, we had provided basic interaction data so, for example, a messaging app could show you your most recent contacts. Currently, Google+ has "low usage and engagement", according to Google, and 90 percent of user sessions last less than five seconds.

Play Store apps will no longer be allowed to access text message and call logs unless they are the default calling or texting app on a user's device or have an exception from Google. The change makes it so users must individually grant or deny each permission to access data in their consumer Google account, rather than accept or deny permissions all at the same time.

Google said Monday that it will phase out Google+ over the next ten months. There will be a 10-month transition and final closure will happen in August 2019.

Android data access is being restricted to app developers.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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