Google announced today that it is shutting down the Google+ social network after the company's engineers found an API bug that might have exposed some private profile data for more than 500,000 Google+ users.
Google said in the blog post that it "discovered and immediately patched" a bug in March 2018 that potentially allowed app developers to access profile data from users that had not been marked as public.
"Had this breach occurred just a few months later, Google could be subject to strict GDPR fines for not keeping user data safe". "None of those thresholds were met here", he said.
In weighing whether to disclose the incident, the company considered "whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response", he said. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was allegedly briefed on the company's plan not to notify users about the bug. Instead of reporting this to subscribers of the service, Google made a decision to just let it slide so that it wouldn't be subject to investigation by regulatory agencies.
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The Google+ data breach was discovered in March of this year during an audit of the company's APIs, conducted by a privacy task force codenamed Project Strobe. It did not include phone numbers, the content of emails or messages, or other kinds of communication data.
"The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google user sessions are less than five seconds", the company said.
Google knew about a privacy flaw in its Google+ social media platform that exposed users' personal information for over six months before finally reporting the problem in a blog post this morning.
Google hoped to avoid comparisons to Facebook's leak of user information to Cambridge Analytica, the data firm accused of improperly using information on 87 million Facebook users on behalf of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, the Journal said.
Google says that like other tech companies, it has encouraged third-party developers to "build on top of our various services". The move effectively puts the final nail in the coffin of a product that was launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook Inc. and is widely seen as one of Google's biggest failures.