Google to shut down Google+ citing data breach of over 500K people

Google, the Cupertino-based search engine now owned by Alphabet Inc, will shut down the Facebook-like social networking site Google+ that was launched in 2012 for consumer and organizations as a separate product where consumers got it for free unless organizations. According to the latest progress in the Google+ story, Google testified on Monday (Oct 8) that profile data of at least half a million users were exposed to external developers.

What’s more shocking is that Google knew about the vulnerability from March this year and provided a patch for the same, however, it never shared the information to the public although it claims that no data was misused even after being potentially exposed for a long period of time. This and several other privacy breach revelations from Google resulted in 1 percent fall in the shares of parent company Alphabet Inc as Huffington Post refers it.

The vulnerability was discovered back in March this year, however, Google opted to keep mum to escape the clutches of being compared with Facebook which recently sold out data of more than 87 million users to political data firm Cambridge Analytica for which, Facebook faced wrath of many including a session arranged at the Senate Intelligence Committee where Facebook’s CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg was called in to testify about the data breach and more.

Google+ has been operated since 2011 both as a free version to users and paid version for organizations as an internal channel bundled in ‘G Suite’. Google+ was launched to compete against Facebook, however, it instead copied a number of elements and features that were quickly recognized and citing the complicated features on Google+, it received a lesser response than Facebook anyhow.

Google+ provided features like adding friends in what we call it as ‘circles’ within the app and then, it added a number of lookalike features like news feed, friends, etc. Google+ also copied Facebook’s feature to connect with third-party apps and add-ons such as music app, games, etc.

After years of being in operation, Google will finally shut down Google+ (the free version) after which, it will set up several privacy policies such as the add-ons associated with Gmail will no longer have access to sell to user data and they will have to get a third-party security assessment done which could cost around 15 grand to 75 grand. Further, Google has strengthened the Google Play Store by disallowing any app to access user’s call logs and text messages unless specified in Google’s default or exception list.

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