Google Plus Shutting Down Following Undisclosed Security Breach

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Google+ for consumers is shutting down forever — over the next 10 months.

Although almost nobody uses the beleaguered social media platform these days, CNN Business reported that a previously undisclosed unspecified security breach led to the decision to do away with the service.

Apparently, the company did not disclose a security breach, which affected as many as 500,000 of users of the service. Google learned about the security issue in March 2018, and they did not disclose it to users, but it immediately patched the bug. Incidentally, the Cambridge Analytica data breach also came to light in March. Because politicians called for hearings to look into the Facebook privacy breach, Google’s legal team advised them not to disclose it for fear of attracting “immediate regulatory interest.”

“Every year, we send millions of notifications to users about privacy and security bugs and issues,” a spokesperson for Google said in a statement. “Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice.”

So far, The Verge reported that Google had no evidence that any of the data taken as a result of the security flaw has been misused. In place of the consumer Google+ service, which was never widely adopted, the company plans to focus on business customers that use the platform to allow for conversation among co-workers.

In light of the security flaw, Google also announced a new adjustment in its privacy policy across all its services in a new internal program called Project Strobe. Changes in its API mean developers will receive limited permissions for Android users and Gmail. The company will no longer allow call log and SMS permissions for developers from Android devices their apps run on. Google plans to revoke several permissions the previous privacy rules permitted.

Gmail users also get a new User Data Policy, which will limit third-party applications’ access to certain types of data. Google’s VP of engineering wrote in a blog, “Only apps directly enhancing email functionality — such as email clients, email backup services and productivity services (e.g., CRM and mail merge services) — will be authorized to access this data.”

Plus, developers will now undergo new security assessments to determine how they use consumers’ data, and as part of the process, these developers must agree to brand-new data handling rules.

Twitter users took to the platform to discuss the demise of the underutilized social media initiative from Google. One person tweeted, “I went back to Google+ to look at it before they close it down and all the current posts are just people saying goodbye to Google+.”