Google is closing its social network, Google Plus, following the discovery of a security breach this past spring, in which up to 500,000 customers (between 2015 and 2018) had their information exposed. However, a report by The Wall Street Journal newspaper suggested that the Mountain View, California, company wanted to avoid drawing regulatory scrutiny.
The flaw meant some Google profile information that users had thought was private, such as a person's email address, occupation, gender or age, could have been viewed by third parties, the company said in a post on a corporate blog.
The company says it didn't find any evidence that any of the affected personal information was misused. The social network, which was launched in 2011, was initially supposed to be a response to Facebook and Twitter, but it has ceased to exist outside of a handful of niche communities for years. The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: "90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".
Google also said the consumer version of Google+ had low usage and engagement and 90% of user sessions are less than five seconds long, essentially trashing its own product to cover up.
In a statement to BleepingComputer, a Google Spokesperson said that their Privacy & Data Protection Office felt it was not necessary to disclose as it did not meet the threshold that would warrant it.
"Our review showed that our Google+ APIs, and the associated controls for consumers, are challenging to develop and maintain".
Google+ API's log data is only for kept two weeks, so it can not confirm which users were impacted by this bug. The tech giant announced the decision at the same time that it disclosed that the privacy of up to a half-million Google+ accounts could have been affected by a "bug".
Luckily though, if you want to jump ship before Google formally shuts down the social network, there's an easy way to check if you're signed up - and delete your account.
In its blog post announcing the Google+ shutdown, Google says it found the vulnerability as part of its Project Strobe review of third-party developer access to Google account and Android device data.
Smith said Google+ would wind down over the next ten months, during which time users will be able to download or migrate their data, and the site would be permanently retired in August 2019.