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Google has announced that its consumer service Google + is to be shuttered after a security bug in it revealed the data of around 500 000 users to external developers between 2015 and 2018.

The Journal also reports that Alphabet chose not to disclose the issue this past spring, when the issue was first discovered, "in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage..."

The same month that the bug was discovered, Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data scandal came to light, prompting politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to call for hearings and regulation. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was allegedly briefed on the company's plan not to notify users about the bug. Google explained that there was indeed a glitch that could allow developers to access private profile information, including a user's name, email address, occupation, gender, age, and profile photo. However, what wasn't known, was that on the given accounts, friends of that profile also had their data made available to developers, even if they made such data private.

Google said that there are up to 438 apps that use the affected API. That means we can not confirm which users were impacted by this bug.

The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers' expectations. Also, Smith is adamant Project Strobe found "no evidence" this bug was abused or even that the developers using the API were aware it existed.

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What's probably more interesting to most users is that the advertising giant opted to not disclose the issue.

The consumer version was found to have low usage and engagement, with 90 percent of Google+ user sessions lasting fewer than five seconds, according to the firm. Enterprise users will continue to have access to the platform for the foreseeable future - Google says the social media website is better as an enterprise product, anyway.

The company will begin to wind-down the network over a 10-month period, allowing users time to wipe their profiles clean and take down additional information.

Meanwhile, Google planned to add new workplace-oriented features to enhance the appeal of Google+ as a "secure corporate social network" to be used inside business operations. This is in direct voliation of GDPR which says that any data breach should be reported within 72 hours.

For Google, a data privacy reckoning may finally come as a result of a service that it admits nearly no one uses much anymore.


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