October 8, 2018 5:31 pm

Google+, Google’s social network, to shut down after bug exposes users’ data

FILE - This Oct. 20, 2015, file photo, shows a sign outside Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File
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Google+, Google’s social network website, will be shutting down after a bug made the personal information of up to 500,000 people exposed.

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Google made the announcement in a blog post after the Wall Street Journal broke news of the vulnerability.

One of Google+’s People APIs allowed 438 external apps to obtain users’ names, email addresses, occupations, genders and ages, even for accounts that were made private.

However, Google says that there is no evidence that any third-party developers were aware of the bug or abused it. The bug appears to have been active between 2015 and 2018.

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Google says they closed the bug in March 2018, shortly after learning of its existence, but did not inform users of its existence to avoid “immediate regulatory interest” and to not be put in the spotlight with Facebook, which was dealing with the Cambridge Analytica scandal where millions of its users’ personal information was illegally purchased, according to the WSJ.

Google+ will be shut down over a 10-month period, concluding in August 2019, as Google admits that it never gained the traction they had hoped.

Google says that 90 per cent of Google+ user sessions lasted for less than five seconds.

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However, Google will continue to use Google+ for Enterprise purposes as an internal social network for companies rather than for consumers, saying that it is the most popular use of the social network. Google will announce new Enterprise-focused products for Google+ in the near future.

Google+ was launched in June, 2011 as a way to compete with other social networks such as Facebook.

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