Google has finally closed its social network Google+ after announcing data from up to 500,000 users may have been exposed by a bug that was present for more than two years. And an internal memo noted that while there wasn't any evidence of misuse on behalf of developers, there wasn't a way to know for sure whether any misuse took place.
Google says it hasn't found any evidence that developers were aware of the bug, so it's unlikely that anyone abused it.
This is Google's response after the company came under criticism in July for letting third-party apps roam free and access users' Gmail data, including the content of Gmail emails.
The company said it didn't report the breach partly due to fears of regulatory scrutiny.
Per this blog post that went up earlier today, Google noted that it was providing a ten-month "sunsetting" period for the site, which also covered a push in security efforts, under the name of Project Strobe.
Though it's been up and running for over a half-decade, Google+ never really got the consumer attention Google expected. It says that's one reason it delayed disclosing the problem.
Wall Street Journal also reported that Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users as it would result in an immediate regulatory interest.More news: Washington Post prints empty column for Saudi writer missing in Turkey
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For action 2, Google is preparing to give you more fine-grained controls over permissions in Android apps and the account data you share with them.
For Google, a data privacy reckoning may finally come as a result of a service that it admits nearly no one uses much anymore.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company said that its review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ "that meets consumers" expectations'.
Shortly after the report was published, Google announced that it would be shutting down Google+ for consumers, seven years after it was launched, citing the incident as part of the cause. No developer exploited the vulnerability or misused data, the review found. Google and Apple are both now giving users more control over their data and the ability to limit what third parties can access. Currently, Google+ has "low usage and engagement", according to Google, and 90 percent of user sessions last less than five seconds. The company was the target of a massive class action lawsuit in the United Kingdom after 4 million users had their personal data collected and allegedly used for targeted advertising.
USA lawmakers are concerned that the big tech companies have come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons in recent years. The bug was reported to have potentially allowed app developers to access profile data from even private accounts. The service will be wound down over the next 10 months, with the ultimate shut-down coming in August 2019. Developers will also have more limited access to Gmail data going forward.