Google Shutters Google+ Following Privacy Vulnerability

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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.

Google addressed the breach in its post saying it "discovered and immediately patched" a bug in March 2018. There were no phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Alphabet Inc. announced that it would cease operations for consumers after it was revealed that the social network revealed personal information for hundreds of thousands of users.

When Google+ launched in 2011, it was envisioned as a possible rival to Facebook, The Associated Press reported. It said it would add "more granular" screens for granting permission to access data, and was adding new limits to the data that third-party apps can use.

Google's excuse is that it found no evidence of any of the data being misused, however, it also has no way of being sure of that. Apps also won't be allowed to sell the data for marketing or ad targeting, and any human review of email data will be "strictly limited".

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The Google+ data leak bug was found as part of "Project Strobe", a root-and-branch review of what data developers could access from Google accounts, and Android devices.

Google has even admitted that no one actually uses Google+. After discovering and fixing the bug, Google ultimately decided against disclosing this information out of fear of regulatory pressure, the Journal reports.

The news comes just two weeks after Facebook revealed almost 50m users had been affected by a similar privacy lapse.

After several unsuccessful attempts to revive interest in Google+ and get more users on board, Google has made a decision to shut down the consumer version of the platform by the end of August 2019. Google itself says the issue was quietly resolved in March 2018, but not before third parties obtained private user data off of Google+ profiles. The problem was that this also gave those same developers access to the user's friends' non-public profiles. In the company's own words, "90 per cent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".

Google said it was unable to confirm which accounts were affected by the bug, but an analysis indicated it could have been as many as 500,000 Google+ accounts.

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