Google Shutters Google+ Following Privacy Vulnerability

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The project launched in 2011 as an alternative to other social networks ended up being a huge failure for the company.

In response to the breach, Google is shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+.

The company said that it often notifies users when there are security issues and flaws and user data is affected, but its privacy and data protection office said the bug did not meet the threshold. Google will continue to make Google+ available to enterprise users.

The affected data is limited to static, optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age, Google said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company didn't disclose to its customers the data breach for fear of damaging its reputation as well as facing a potential for a regulatory inquiry. Google was hammered again a month later, when the Associated Press revealed the company was tracking users' locations even after they'd turned off their phones' location history setting.

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Per WSJ, a "software glitch" allowed user data to be potentially exposed to unwanted eyes from 2015 all the way through March 2018 when Google learned about it.

It was explained that the consumer version of Google+ has low usage and engagement with 90 per cent of user sessions lasting less than five seconds.

The move came amid news that the firm may have failed to disclose a data-exposing security bug presumed to have reached hundreds of thousands of accounts. The shutdown of Google+ won't happen immediately but will instead be a "wind-down" that ends in August 2019. This development was informed by the company on Monday, where it also stated that users will no longer be able to access his/her account.

Google also announced new API changes in an effort to restrict developers' access to data on Android devices and Gmail.

Because Google doesn't keep API log data on G+, it can't confirm how many users were vulnerable, but it thinks the number is north of 500,000.

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Additionally, as part of the Android Contacts permission, we had provided basic interaction data so, for example, a messaging app could show you your most recent contacts.

"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+".

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 announcement comes as public scrutiny has intensified around Silicon Valley tech giants' management of user data, among other issues.

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