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Google will be shutting down their social media platform Google+ over a software bug that exposed the private personal information of around 500,000 users.
The company announced Monday that it would permanently close down Google+ as part of their Project Strobe initiative, which aims to protect user data and improve third-party APIs.
The decision comes after the company announced that it had kept the software bug hidden from the public for more than six months. According to Google’s Safety and Security release, the software issue left personal information such as the user’s name, email address, gender, age, and occupation exposed and vulnerable to a breach. The bug was promptly repaired but the company decided against disclosing the incident.
“We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused,” said Vice President of Engineering Ben Smith on the company’s blog.
“We made Google+ with privacy in mind and therefore keep this API’s log data for only two weeks. That means we cannot confirm which users were impacted by this bug.”
Google discovered the software issue at the height of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal back in March but only reported the issue Monday. Even though a lack of evidence was the reasoning behind the decision to not make an announcement sooner, the failure to report it has only added fuel to the flame over the matter of privacy, security and the government regulations.
While the company has pledged to strengthen their controls and policies, privacy advocates have expressed concern over company’s privacy practices, especially during a time plagued with privacy scandals.
The shut down of Google+ is the company’s first action of many to come in their latest effort to tighten up their data security. Google plans to roll out a 10-month wind down period for users to transition and transfer data, and slated for completion in August 2019.