Google+ to shut down after security flaw exposes users' private details

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A bug in their Google+ People APIs, which potentially exposed the data of over 500.000 users and was promptly patched in March 2018. And an internal memo noted that while there wasn't any evidence of misuse on behalf of developers, there wasn't a way to know for sure whether any misuse took place.

The company said it determined its course of action based on the data involved in the breach, lack of evidence of misuse and challenges in accurately determining which users to inform. Google explained that there was indeed a glitch that could allow developers to access private profile information, including a user's name, email address, occupation, gender, age, and profile photo.

Google also announced a series of reforms to its privacy policies created to give users more control on the amount of data they share with third-party app developers.

Following this report being published, Google announced that it found the security hole in part thanks to something the company is calling Project Strobe.

In response to this, Google+ will be shutting down for regular users.

Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, sources told the WSJ.

Many have long suspected that Google+ was in its final days, but nearly no-one could have predicted it would end like this.

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Google+ has been largely forgotten for a few years now, not just by its users, but also by the team that had been working on the platform.

Google will roll out stricter rules for third-party apps that want to access users' Gmail inboxes. Google found that no one was using it, saying that "Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

Besides applying to a new app review process, Google also plans to subject the apps to security assessments on how developers store Gmail user data collected through the app. This should translate to only your default phone and texting apps having access to your call and SMS data.

To give people a full opportunity to transition, we will implement this wind-down over a 10-month period, slated for completion by the end of next August. The change makes it so users must individually grant or deny each permission to access data in their consumer Google account, rather than accept or deny permissions all at the same time. He said that given the legal issues Facebook faces over its Cambridge Analytica cover-up, it's not surprising Google tried to keep the leak out of the public eye.

Google came under criticism for refusing to send a top executive to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on 5 September about efforts to counteract foreign influence in United States elections and political discourse.

The firm is also ending access to contact interaction data on Android devices.

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