Major Privacy Issues in Google+ Force Its Shutdown Earlier than Planned

Google+ and its APIs are shutting down sooner than announced after a new privacy glitch that exposed the data of more than 52 million users was detected in November, Google announced on Monday.

Personal information such as age, name and email address was available online for six days before the bug was fixed, but there’s no evidence that developers misused the data. The company assures users that their passwords, financial information and any data that could be used for fraud or identity theft was not compromised.

“We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced,” Google said. “No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.”

The company had already detected a bug in October that leaked personal information of 500,000 users including names, emails and jobs. That first security incident led to a decision to close the network by August 2019, and the software vulnerability found in November rushed the process. As a result, all Google+ APIs will shut down in the coming 90 days, while the consumer version of Google+ will close earlier in April 2019 “to ensure the protection of our users.”

Following these major security breaches, Google will most likely struggle to regain consumer trust, as its entire business model is based on applications that collect personal information. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, lawmakers will probably also step in following allegations that Google chose to hide the original breach for months fearing regulatory scrutiny and reputational damage.

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