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

Kelley Robertson
October 10, 2018

After the Wall Street Journal revealed that Google accidentally exposed the private information of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users over the period of three years, you might not feel so comfortable having a Google+ account anymore, even though Google plans to shut down the service.

The API flaw allowed third-party app developers to access profile and contact information that chose to sign into the apps via Google.

As a result of the breach, 496,951 users' names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, occupation, places they lived and relationship status were potentially exposed.

The announcement came in a blog post, which was also Google's first public description of the privacy bug.

As part of a slew of new security measures, Google is expected to clamp down on the amount of data it provides to outside developers through application programming interfaces (APIs), sources told the Journal.

The company says it discovered and patched the issue in March but decided not to disclose it immediately. "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", wrote Ben Smith, a Google vice president of engineering. The company announced today that it's killing the consumer version of Google+ after it discovered some major privacy issues with the official Google+ APIs.

Google+, a social network that we can certainly say existed and not much more, is slated for a long-overdue trip down the memory hole. According to a report published Monday by The Wall Street Journal, the vulnerability wasn't disclosed because Google didn't want to be subjected to regulatory scrutiny from lawmakers. Third-party SMS apps will still be allowed, but they can only access this data if the user sets the app as their default for text messaging. "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+".

For Gmail apps requesting permission to user data Google will only grant access to apps which 'directly enhancing email functionality-such as email clients, email backup services and productivity services (e.g., CRM and mail merge services)'.

When you hit that, Google will let you know what you're about to do and give you options to get more details about the implications of deleting your account.

This bug helped outside developers to gain access to users personal data.

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