Plug pulled on social network Google+ after users’ data left exposed

Google is pulling the plug on its flagship social network Google+ after data from up to 500,000 users was left exposed by a bug.

The tech giant said it would shut down the consumer version of the platform after it revealed users’ data may have been exposed by a bug that was present for more than two years.

In a blog post, the company revealed it discovered the leak and patched it in March. It said it had no evidence that the data was misused or that any developer was aware of it or had exploited the leak.

A Google spokesperson said there were “significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations”.

They said the firm would now “sunset” the app, which failed to truly challenge Facebook, citing “very low usage”.

Following the announcement, shares in Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc were down 1.5% in response to the privacy issues.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google had decided not to disclose the issue with its Application Program Interfaces (API) due to fears of increased regulatory scrutiny.

But the company said it reviewed the issue and looked at the type of data involved, if it could correctly identify the users affected to inform them, if there was any evidence of misuse, and if there was any action a user or developer could take.

“None of these thresholds were met in this instance,” the firm said in its blog post. “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.”

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