The parallel was not lost on Google, and the company chose not to disclose the data breach, the Wall Street Journal revealed Monday, in order to avoid the public relations headache and potential regulatory enforcement.
While no evidence was found that indicates this bug was ever misused, it was determined that the complexity of protecting and operating a social network like Google+ was not a worthwhile endeavor when so few users actually used the service for any length of time.
This tech giant has now come up with a number of plans as data privacy measures.
The private data of almost half a million Google+ users was exposed to third-party developers, and Google failed to notify anyone. The lawsuit was blocked in the High Court on Monday.
Google also announced a series of reforms to its privacy policies created to give users more control on the amount of data they share with third-party app developers. Google will continue to make Google+ available to enterprise users. As a result (and because of the relatively low engagement shown by Google+ users in the seven years since the service was introduced), Google plans to retire it to consumers.
In a blogpost about the shutdown, Google disclosed the data breach, which it said potentially affected up to 500,000 accounts. "Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we made a decision to sunset the consumer version of Google+".
Google came under criticism for refusing to send a top executive to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on 5 September about efforts to counteract foreign influence in U.S. elections and political discourse. The social network as often been mocked at a desperate attempt to compete with Facebook, and it's safe to say that consumers largely ignored it in recent years. Google said that 90 percent of all Google+ sessions don't last more than five seconds, confirming rumors that the site was more of a ghost town, when compared to Twitter and Facebook. Google+ users could even allow a third-party app to access the public information of friends.
The bug allowed app developers to access information like names, email addresses, occupation, gender and more. The service will be wound down over the next 10 months, with the ultimate shut-down coming in August 2019.
Google also said it would begin restricting the data it provides to outside developers.
Google immediately patched the bug when it discovered it as part of the Project Strobe audit in March 2018.
Finding 3: When users grant apps access to their Gmail, they do so with certain use cases in mind.