Why is Google+ Shutting Down?
Google plans to shut down the consumer version of Google+, the company has announced in a blog post. Currently, Google+ has low usage and engagement according to Google, this is of course 100% true, with the stat that 90% of user sessions on last less than 5 seconds, which for a social media platform is unheard of.
But the main reason that Google have decided to shut down Google+ seems to be largely down to the previously mentioned security breach that has exposed users profile data. You see, Google+ users could grant access to their profile data to third party apps – just like users could with Facebook and Twitter. Users could even allow a third-party app to access the public information of friends. The bug that has been discovered and disclosed was located in the Google+ People API. And it allowed third party apps to gain access to user’s data that was private.
Who is affected by the Google+ Bug?
Up to 438 apps may have used the offending Google+ People API, and the profiles of up to 500,000 accounts were potentially affected, according to Google. However, The Wall Street Journal made the API bug seem worse. It may have leaked user data since 2015 and was apparently found when Google started checking its sites for privacy leaks ahead of the GDPR rollout. The Wall Street Journal also claimed that Google tried to cover the breach, rather than make it public, to avoid immediate regulatory interest.
Has the Google+ Bug Been Patched?
Yes. Google has said it discovered and patched the API bug in March 2018.
“We believe it occurred after launch as a result of the API’s interaction with a subsequent code change,” Google explained. It also found “no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API”, and it found “no evidence that any profile data was misused”.
Google also announced that there would be new API changes in an effort to restrict developers’ access to data on android devices and Gmail. For instance, it is limiting the ability to receive call logs and SMS permissions on Android devices. It will also stop allowing contact interaction data available through the Android Contacts API. For Gmail, Google is updating its User Data Policy and limiting apps access to data.
When will Google+ Shut Down?
Google wants to complete the sunsetting process for the consumer version of Google+ by August 2019. But it also wants to keep the service going for enterprise customers. “Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate network,” Google explained.