Culture 2 min read

Google Announces Google+ Shut Down After User Data Exposure

Google Logo in Building43 | Robert Scoble |

Google Logo in Building43 | Robert Scoble |

Google announced yesterday that it would be shutting down Google+ after an undisclosed data breached was exposed.

Following a report of a massive data breach by The Wall Street Journal yesterday, tech giant Google has announced that it will be closing down its social networking site, Google+, for consumers. Google has allegedly discovered a bug in its Google+ API which made the data of its users accessible to third-party app developers.

The nature of the breach is almost the same as the Cambridge Analytica scandal that put Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg in front of the U.S. Congress earlier this year. Google has allegedly found the data leak around the same period as the Facebook scandal and opted not to disclose it to avoid the same fate.

In a blog post written by Google Fellow and Vice President of Engineering Ben Smith, he announced the Google+ shut down.

“Over the years we’ve received feedback that people want to better understand how to control the data they choose to share with apps on Google+. So as part of Project Strobe, one of our first priorities was to closely review all the APIs associated with Google+,” Smith wrote.

“Our review showed that our Google+ APIs, and the associated controls for consumers, are challenging to develop and maintain. Underlining this, as part of our Project Strobe audit, we discovered a bug in one of the Google+ People APIs.”

The bug which exposed the names, email addresses, occupation, gender, and age of around 500,000 Google+ users and their friends was first discovered in March this year. The company claimed that it was immediately patched and that they found no evidence that any developer was aware of the bug or that any profile has been misused.

Google is currently among the list of Silicon Valley companies that have been increasingly scrutinized by authorities for their data collection practices. Just last month, the company’s Chief Privacy Officer Keith Enright testified before the U.S. Senate together with other representatives from Apple, Amazon, and AT&T. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to attend a congressional hearing right after the midterm elections in November.

Are social networking sites and other tech companies really imposing tight privacy controls to protect the privacy of users?

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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