Google reveals social network bug exposed private data of 500 000 accounts

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According to a report in the Wall Street Journal published Monday lunchtime, a software glitch within Google+ exposed the private profile data of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users to outside developers.

According to Smith, as many as 500,000 accounts could have been affected, and the data exposed could potentially include things such as name, occupation, or age - but not phone numbers or any other information stored on your Google account. 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.

In addition to "sunsetting consumer Google+", the company is making changes to APIs on its other services, which will limit the amount of access developers get to data on Android and Gmail.

Google said the flaw was patched immediately and that there was no evidence that the leaked information was used by any third-party developers.

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Google has announced that it's kicking its floundering social media platform Google+ to the curb, some seven years after it was first introduced.

Google has declined to comment on why it held off reporting the breach.

"The snafu threatens to give Google a black eye on privacy after public assurances that it was less susceptible to data gaffes like those that have befallen Facebook", the Journal said. "Our goal is to support a wide range of useful apps, while ensuring that everyone is confident that their data is secure". Third-party SMS apps will still be allowed, but they can only access this data if the user sets the app as their default for text messaging.

A Google Australia spokesperson was unable to say how many local users were affected by the flaw, saying: "Every year, we send millions of notifications to users about privacy and security bugs and issues".

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Going forward, Google could face legal action for its failure to report the security breach to the public.

The company said it'll focus its energy on using Google+ as an enterprise product within companies.

The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers' expectations.

The US internet giant said that 90% of Google+ user sessions lasted only five seconds long or less.

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