Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

Alphabet to shut Google

Alphabet to shut Google

Google said it hadn't found any evidence that "any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused".

According to the company, profile information like name, email address and age from some users was available to apps, even if users had not marked it public.

Google also announced that, in addition to shutting down Google+, it's revamping its account permissions to allow users to pick and choose which data they share with third-party apps.

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. There were no phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data. The software flaw affected how the social network, created to rival Facebook but never seriously challenging it, interacted with third-party applications. However, many were quick to point out the announcement came after The Wall Street Journal reported the bug and said Google opted not to disclose it to avoid regulatory scrutiny and reputational damages.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan to not disclose the data breach. Gmail add-on access will also be restricted to a small number of developers as part of the moves.

It's possible Google+ may have been shut down eventually, but it's the security breach that forced Google's hand.

For Google, a data privacy reckoning may finally come as a result of a service that it admits nearly no one uses much anymore.

The company added that it made a decision to sunset the consumer version of Google+ due to the significant challenges in creating and maintaining it and its very low usage.

The company said the bug was located in the Google+ People API. As of the time of this writing, it is impossible to know who had what information leaked. Google CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly is expected to take the hot seat in another congressional hearing after the USA midterm elections in November. As for why it's being shut down, Google says that Google+ has "low usage and engagement", with 90 percent of G+ user sessions lasting less than five seconds.

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.

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