In response to a publicized security breach, Google is looking to shut down their failed social media site. Google+ was created with the intention of overthrowing Facebook, but instead has left its scanty user base exposed to third-party data intrusions via software bug.
How Data Was Compromised
Destined to be a popular site, Google+ was once an exclusive social media alternative that required an invitation, which made it all the more alluring; how users data was then shared with others is less exclusive. When signing into apps, there was the option to sign in with Google+, similar to signing into an app with Facebook, which then allowed the app to collect and harvest data generated by the user. When a Google+ user logged in with their account, they not only offered up their information, but also their friend’s information.
Who Was Affected
While Google+ never experienced the fame it had predicted, there was still a notable user base. 500,000 users were ultimately affected by this security bug, which revealed their age, jobs, and local information– placing them in danger of fraud. The software bug gave approximately 438 third-party vendors access to users private information from 2015 to March 2018, when the loophole was discovered.
Why Was it Not Made Public
The Google+ data leak was discovered in March– incidentally the same month that Facebook was under fire for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Looking to avoid Facebook’s fate, Google+ chose not to disclose the data leak– instead choosing to quietly repair the software bug. The difference in data leaks is rather apparent, with Google+ having a much smaller user base in comparison to Facebook.
What You Can Do
Many users made a Google+ account when it was all the rage, but most didn’t use it after initial creation. While you may not be using Google+ anymore, one of your friends might have– leaving you exposed. Checking to see if you have a Google+ account is as simple as checking your gmail or university email, then going into your settings to completely delete the Google+ account. A lot users have an account and they don’t even realize it.
The site is said to shut down in ten months, while leaving a business aspect of Google+ still available.