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Google Shuts Down Google+ After Privacy Breach

10 October 2018

In response to the breach, Google is shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+. "While our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption".

Google says that like other tech companies, it has encouraged third-party developers to "build on top of our various services".

The affected data was limited to static, optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age. Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers, or G Suite content were not accessible. The company has said it hasn't found any evidence that the exposed data was misused or inappropriately accessed by any third party.

Google is also updating Gmail's User Data Policy for the consumer version to limit access to user data.

Google today also revealed some more steps that it's taking to help protect user data.

The leaked memo says that while there is no evidence that outside developers misused any data, there is still no way to know for sure.

Though Google found the vulnerability seven months ago, it did not tell the public at the time.

The real concern here is that Google reportedly became aware of the security glitch several months ago but failed to disclose the issue due to "fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage". Google claims that it "discovered and immediately patched" the bug in March 2018, but the flaw has existed since 2015.

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As many as 438 outside apps may have connected with the flawed software.

Parent company Alphabet Inc responded by announcing it would shut down Google+, a largely defunct social network launched in 2011 to compete with Facebook.

Google ran an analysis over the two weeks prior to patching the bug which showed the Profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected. Users have to provide "explicit permission" in order for them to gain access to it.

Saikali said it was possible that Google could face class action lawsuits over its decision not to disclose the breach.

Call logs and SMS permissions will no longer be sent to developers, while contact interaction data won't be accessible via the Android Contacts API.

Such apps include email clients, backup and productivity services, Smith said.

The API allowed users to grant access to their and their friends' profile information to apps.

Google admitted in the blog post disclosing the bug that usage of Google+ has dropped off in recent years.

Google Shuts Down Google+ After Privacy Breach