Google's Failed Social Network, Google+, Will Be No More

Google headquarters in Mountain View California.                  Stephen Shankland  CNET

Google headquarters in Mountain View California. Stephen Shankland CNET

The Wall Street Journal, reported that they have reviewed a memo prepared by Google's legal and policy staff, which indicated that disclosing the data breach could lead to scrutiny by government regulatory agencies.

In a blog post, Google said the information that was exposed includes full names, email addresses, occupation, gender and age.

Google plans to shutter its Google+ social network for consumers, citing its limited adoption with users.

The bug: This had been around since 2015 and was found in code that lets third-party app developers access publicly available Google+ profile data about a user and their connections, so long as the user gives permission. Up to 496,951 users could have been affected, and up to 438 apps could have accessed the data.

"The Data Protection Commission was not aware of this issue and we now need to better understand the details of the breach, including the nature, impact and risk to individuals and we will be seeking information on these issues from Google", the regulator said. There's so little interest in Google+ it's being killed off.

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.

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However, Google only keeps the log data of the API in question for two weeks, due to privacy reasons, and therefore "cannot confirm which users were impacted by this bug", Smith added.

The API in question, allowed developers access to the public data of the users who signed up to use the app that used that API.

David Carroll, a U.S. professor who sued Cambridge Analytica in the United Kingdom courts to reclaim his data, told The Guardian: "Google is right to be concerned and the shutdown of Google+ shows how disposable things really are in the face of accountability". The glitch was live for almost three years, according to the reports, but Google decided not to make the breach public because it feared regulation. The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: "90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

The service will stay online for enterprise customers and business networks that use Google+ software.

Given the potential for abuse, and the fact that nearly no one is using Google+, Alphabet opted to take the path of least resistance and yank the doddering network off life support.

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