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A software glitch exposed the private information of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users between 2015 and March 2018, when the company became aware of the breach, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.

In the post, Google announced it was closing down the service after the Wall Street Journal revealed the company had known about the bug, which affected all Google+ users, since March this year.

The announcement came on Monday, with Google saying in a blog post that they discovered a bug which could have allowed as many as 438 external apps to collect user names, email addresses, professions, gender and age without authorization. The bug is said to have affected as many as 500,000 accounts, though the company says it found "no evidence" that any data was actually misused.

Google said it couldn't determine which users were impacted by this bug because the API was created to keep logs for only two weeks, and it didn't have access to historical data longer than that.

Google+ was launched in 2011, quickly becoming a failed attempt to compete with Facebook. It is a root-and-branch review of third-party developer access to Google accounts and Android device data and of our philosophy around apps' data access, he wrote. The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: "90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

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

Google is now shuttering Google+ as a delayed response.

Despite the security gaff, Google officials opted not to disclose the problem at the time over fear of intense criticism akin to what Facebook went through after its privacy problems. Somehow, the intimate data of the first user would be included in the collection profile.

Google+ API's log data is only for kept two weeks, so it can not confirm which users were impacted by this bug. In addition, Google Account permissions dialog boxes will be split to show each requested permission, one at a time, within its own dialog box. The decision stems from Project Strobe, an internal effort started earlier this year with the goal of reviewing third-party developer access to Android and Google Account data.

The API allowed users to grant access to their and their friends' profile information to apps.


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