On Monday 10th of December, Google announced that it will be shutting down the consumer version of its Google + platform by April 2019 earlier than its proposed deadline of August 2019.
This conclusion is made after it discovered a new bug, which compromised the data of over percentages users, furthermore, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days.
According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also access profile data that had been shared with a specific user, but was not shared publicly.
The bug was first discovered in March, though it had existed since 2015. Google did not report the issue immediately due to regulatory fears, according to earlier reports, not until October, that a similar Google+ vulnerability was revealed to have exposed private user data to developers.
In response, as a means to tackle this and safeguard the data of users Google announced plans to shut down the consumer version of Google+, which in actual fact has been inactive since its still struggling to attract users.
Google says this leaks were discovered by them and it was live for just six days, between November 7th and November 13th and the bug was fixed within a week, Google insisted, but it has only informed the public of this now. It also insists that “no third party compromised our systems” or that app developers who had access to this data for nearly six days misused it or were aware of it.
The “bug did not give developers access to information such as financial data, national identification numbers, passwords, or similar data typically used for fraud or identity theft,”Google’s blog stated.
“With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days,” reads the blog post, penned by David Thacker, Google’s vice president of project management. “In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019. While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.”
The company is now notifying consumer users and enterprise customers impacted by this bug. It is also looking at other Google+ APIs as well. Over the coming months, it will also provide ways for users to download their data from Google+.
Where the enterprise customers go, Google has begun the task of notifying them. “A list of impacted users in those domains is being sent to system administrators, and we will reach out again if any additional impacted users or issues are discovered,” notes the blog post. Google says it will continue to invest in Google+ for enterprise.
“We understand that our ability to build reliable products that protect your data drives user trust,” Thacker wrote today. “We have always taken this seriously, and we continue to invest in our privacy programs to refine internal privacy review processes, create powerful data controls, and engage with users, researchers, and policymakers to get their feedback and improve our programs. We will never stop our work to build privacy protections that work for everyone.”
A lot of people might not know if they are a user of the Google + however for clarity everyone with a Gmail or Google account automatically has a G+ account and that’s something many users might not even remember.