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Google's Failed Social Network, Google+, Will Be No More

10 October, 2018, 01:32 | Author: Tara Roberts
  • Google exposed user data, chose not to tell public - WSJ

In the aftermath of what appears to have been a major security flaw within Google+, the company ended up not disclosing the breach of information to its users.

Despite the size of the security flaw, Google executives opted not to disclose the problem at the time because they feared trouble from regulators after the intense criticism encountered by Facebook over its privacy woes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It's in part because of the situation Facebook faced with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The Wall Street Journal reporter Douglas MacMillan discusses how Google CEO Sundar Pichai denied the allegations that the company silences conservative voices and how regulations would impact the tech giant.

"Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice", a Google spokesman said in a statement. March was when a software bug was fixed that allowed third-party developers to access personal data. In addition, 438 third-party applications may have used the application programming interface, or API, that allowed possible access to the data, according to Google.

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Google says it hasn't found any evidence that developers were aware of the bug, so it's unlikely that anyone abused it.

"We discovered and immediately patched this bug in March 2018", Ben Smith, the company's vice president of engineering, wrote.

The consumer version was found to have low usage and engagement, with 90 percent of Google+ user sessions lasting fewer than five seconds, according to the firm. This is very similar to how Cambridge Analytica was able to collect data on millions of users too. Whether the termination announcement today is truly the result of the security issue or the press around it, or reflects a business decision that was merely accelerated by the disclosure, is the subject of much speculation.

The incident also marks the beginning of the end for Google+, which the company plans to shut down over the next year. That said, social media is the business where Google has failed to mark its presence. The company says that it also will cut back on the amount of data belonging to Android and Gmail users that is available to outside developers. To make sure something like this Google+ leak doesn't happen again, this new initiative is set out to protect user's privacy and limit the amount of data developers have access to across the web and Android.

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