Google shutting down Google+ following data leak of 500,000 users

Written over 1 year ago by IanDorfman

Google has announced that it is discontinuing its Google+ flagship social network following the company's admission that a flaw had exposed key data points on over 500,000 users' profiles to developers even if those users had flagged them as private.

The data breach, originally reported by Douglas MacMillan and Robert McMillan at The Wall Street Journal, was not reported by Google until now.

As posted by Ben Smith, Fellow and Vice President of Engineering at Google on the tech giant's official blog, the data that was exposed from 2015 to March of 2018 includes:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Occupation
  • Gender
  • Age

According to Smith, no data outside of this full list was accessible to developers or any other party without users' explicit permission. In addition, "no evidence" was found of developers abusing this bug or that profile data was misused. That said, Google is not providing a method for users to determine if they were potentially impacted by this flaw.

Smith writes in the blog post announcing Small Google Plus iconGoogle Plus' shutdown that it will occur over a 10-month period and is set to conclude by August of 2019. The post also notes that Google will "provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data" over "the coming months."

Smith's post also outlines some of Google+'s disappointing usage statistics, including the fact that "90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds."

This 10-month shutdown of Google+ is one part of what Google is calling Project Strobe. The company will also be giving Google Account holders more control over the data they can allow or deny third parties access to across the web and their Small Android iconAndroid devices.

Further coverage:
Official Google blog
Ars Technica
Engadget
gHacks
TechCrunch
VentureBeat
The Verge