Google said Monday it is shutting down the long ailing social network Google+ for consumer use amid new scrutiny of the company for reportedly failing to publicly disclose a security bug affecting hundreds of thousands of accounts on the service. Google neglected to report the breach to the public, allegedly out of fear that the company would face regulations and damage to its reputation, according to sources and documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
Google said it discovered a bug in Google+ that allowed developers of "up to 438 applications" to access personal information from users who had opted to keep that information private. Google also said that there is no evidence that and Profile data was misused.
The company also debuted a number of new privacy controls, including limiting the apps that can access Gmail, call log, and text messaging data.
Google said the flaw was patched immediately and that there was no evidence that the leaked information was used by any third-party developers.
"The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than 5 seconds". Google says Google+ for consumers will wind down over a 10-month period, which would be complete by the end of next August.
The company is now responding to the incident and has detailed a set of data privacy measures, which includes shutting down Google+ for consumers.
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In announcing the closure, Google acknowledged that Google+ failed to gain significant traction with consumers.
CEO Sundar Pichai was reportedly informed of the decision to not tell users after it had already been made by an internal committee.
To save any of the data you shared on your Google+ account, including photos, visit Google Takeout's Download Your Data page, select Google+ (and any other Google products where you'd like an archive of your data).
Google today also revealed some more steps that it's taking to help protect user data. In a blog post published right after the WSJ's report, Google confirmed that it is shutting down Google+, as well as confirming a number of the details from the WSJ report.
The post says that a bug discovered in one of the Google+ People APIs allowed users to can grant access to their profile data, and the public profile information of their friends, to Google+ apps, via the API.