Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Google shutting down social network Google+ after security bug disclosed

Google headquarters in Mountain View California.                  Stephen Shankland  CNET Google headquarters in Mountain View California. Stephen Shankland CNET
Roberta Sherman | 10 October, 2018, 13:29

The internal memo obtained by the Journal says that while Google has no evidence that outside developers misused, it has no way to know for sure.

The profile data that was exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status; it didn't include phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data.

As part of a slew of new security measures, Google is expected to clamp down on the amount of data it provides to outside developers through application programming interfaces (APIs), sources told the Journal. Up to 496,951 users could have been affected, and up to 438 apps could have accessed the data. The lawsuit was blocked in the High Court on Monday. And last month, Facebook disclosed that attackers exposed information on almost 50 million users.

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Users can grant access to their Profile data, and the public Profile information of their friends, to Google+ apps, via the API.

Besides low usage, Google+ engagement rates are also defeating, with 90-percent of all sessions lasting for under five seconds, according to Alphabet's subsidiary.

Google+ launched back in 2011 with a. feature set very similar to Facebook. Apps also won't be allowed to sell the data for marketing or ad targeting, and any human review of email data will be "strictly limited". A spokeswoman for Google didn't immediately return a request for further comment.

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Now, after several years of speculation that it was going to be shut down, Google is bringing Google+ for consumers to an end. "Additionally, the decision not to disclose the discovered vulnerability speaks to a fear of reputational damage and possible legal ramifications or litigation in light of recent Senate hearings and the GDPR [the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation]". However, the firm "found no evidence that any Profile data was misused".

All of this has led Google to finally admit Google+ was a failure, with the company announcing that it will close over the next ten months with a pivot to the enterprise market in the cards.

The bug, which went undiscovered from 2015 until March of this year, according to The WSJ, allowed developers to access personal data from the connections of people who had installed their app, even if those people didn't give permission for their information to be accessed.

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