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Despite its lack of popularity for the seven years, no one expected the end of Google+ to come this soon or to be so undignified. After a software breach that leaked thousands of private user data, Google has finally decided to close Google+.
Allegedly, the software bug affected 500K users’ accounts, and it allowed access to private data to third parties.
The problem had existed since 2015, and Google+ administration had known about it since March, but did not make it public or take any action towards it, in an attempt to avoid probable resultant regulatory interests. This was around the same time Facebook was facing the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In an Interview, Google commented that when they discovered the problem, their Privacy and Data Protection Office did a review on the issue. They identified the kind of data that had been exposed and tried to establish whether their system could point out the affected users to inform them of the situation. They also attempted to identify any evidence of misuse of the data and whether or not they could take any action towards making right the situation.
They came up with the conclusion that none of the thresholds had been met. Google only keeps API log data for two weeks, and therefore it could not identify the specific users affected by the bug. Furthermore, among the 500K users affected, there was no evidence that any of them was aware of the bug.
Google may not have to pay any fine, or at least not as much as 4% which is what Facebook was fined during its scandal. The less number of Google+ users has played in its favor, since, when compared to the 50million user’s whose privacy was violated by Facebook, the 500M is nothing.
The lack of consumers is also another reason why Google has decided to shut down Google+. Statistically, and according to what Google revealed, 90% of those who use Google+ do not spend even as little as 5 seconds there.
However, Google+ is not getting out of business entirely. The search engine will be available for business use only. According to Google, business consumers still consider it valuable, mainly because of the tight security and data protection policies that are to be implemented.
The sunset will take ten months, and within that period, Google will provide information to users on how to download or migrate their data.