Google grabbed hold on any excuse to distance itself from its long-maligned social network.
The details: Google discovered a bug in its woebegone Google+ social network in March which exposed the data of users and their contacts in non-public profile data feeds. The bug allowed thirty-party developers which connected to the platform to potentially gain the data of, “496,951 users’ full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status,” according to TechCrunch.
Why it matters: Google said that there was no evidence that the data was misused by the 438 apps that had access to the platform. Despite the media calling it a "hack," it was more of a vulnerability that had the potential to disclose data on a limited set of users.
In the wake of the vulnerability, Google said that it will shut down the Google+ service over the next 10 months, a timeframe which allows users to download their data from the platform. Google said that Google profile data (which includes data like your location history or payment information) or GSuite content (Calendar, Drive, Gmail) was not exposed.
After the report, Google announced new privacy reforms based on its Project Strobe security audit. The new rules include limiting the access developers have to call logs and SMS data in Android.
The hacker perspective:
Code Red editor Dan Rowinski says:
"Google has been in a thorny situation with Google+ for a long while. The vulnerability, which was introduced in 2015 but discovered and patched in March 2018, could have run afoul of the European GDPR, which went into effect in May. Any further vulnerabilities from Google+ could have led to steep fines for the company in Europe and elsewhere.
Even though the the number of users impacted was relatively small, as far as these things go, Google is taking the opportunity to shut down what has become one of its biggest product failures. Google + failed to gain mainstream adoption and as Facebook and Twitter come under scrutiny and became political hotbeds as vehicles for abusive behavior and the distribution of false information, there is little incentive for Google to continue the service. Cutting Google+ from its roster will likely save Google a lot of headaches in the future."