Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Wayne Curry

Google shuts down Google

Google shuts down Google

Late Monday, Google shuttered its Google+ social network following the disclosure that personal data for hundreds of thousands of users was potentially exposed because of a bug it kept quiet.

Google will shut down the consumer version of its social network Google+ after announcing 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.

Google chose not to disclose the flaw out of concern it would trigger regulatory backlash, especially in the wake of criticism against Facebook for its privacy failures, according to the Wall Street Journal, which initially reported the news on Monday (Tuesday NZT).

Google says it hasn't found any evidence that developers were aware of the bug, so it's unlikely that anyone abused it.

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

Among other changes, the company is updating its User Data Policy for the consumer Gmail API in order to limit apps that may seek permission to access consumer Gmail data.

"Going forward, consumers will get more fine-grained control over what account data they choose to share with each app", Google said. "Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we made a decision to sunset the consumer version of Google+".

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Alphabet said in a blog it had discovered and patched the data leak in Google+ in March of this year. Presumably, they wanted to avoid a PR hit, as that was the same time that Facebook was being slammed in the media for not stopping Cambridge Analytica from stealing data from millions of users. "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", wrote Ben Smith, a Google vice president of engineering.

Google+ will be shutting down over a period of about 10 months, and will vanish by next August.

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.

Google refused to send Pichai to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on September 5, where Facebook's chief operating officer and Twitter Inc's chief executive testified. No developer exploited the vulnerability or misused data, the review found.

Unfortunately, whether you've forgotten about it or not, if you have a Google+ account, your data may have been put at risk. Google further said that the enterprise version of Google+ will continue.

"Even if the problem was an unanticipated bug, what is Google's defense for concealing that bug for six months, especially if users could have taken steps to mitigate the. sharing of their data?"

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