Alphabet to shut down social media network Google

11 October, 2018, 23:44 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • Google headquarters in Mountain View California.                  Stephen Shankland  CNET

The bug, discovered in March during an internal company review, could have allowed outside software developers - or people posing as outside developers - to learn the names, email addresses, occupations, genders and ages of Google+ users. According to an internal memo viewed by the Wall Street Journal, Google feared disclosing the issue would be detrimental to its reputation and draw unwanted regulatory attention. Explaining this bug, Google said, "With this API, users can grant access to their Profile data, and the public Profile information of their friends to Google+ apps. None of these thresholds were met in this instance", wrote Ben Smith, a Google vice president of engineering.

The company is now responding to the incident and has detailed a set of data privacy measures, which includes shutting down Google+ for consumers. "It's that Google's execs knowingly avoided disclosing an issue because they knew it'd invite gov scrutiny & bad PR". Thankfully, according to Google, no developer was aware of the bug, was misusing the Google+ API, or had misused private data from users' profiles. It also said that it would strengthen Android app permission requirements to give users more fine-grained control over their mobile phone data, and that it would make it harder for apps to access sensitive information, like SMS messages and call records.

So a group of the company's executives ruled that the firm should stay quiet about the flaw, and reportedly informed Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, of their decision. "Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we made a decision to sunset the consumer version of Google+", Google said in the blog announcement.

Google is shutting down the consumer version of Google+ because the social media network isn't worth maintaining, the company said Monday. This method will better secure third party APIs with Google services, allowing for less data to be given to outside applications.

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David C. Vladeck, former director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection and now a Georgetown Law professor, said the new Google+ incident is "obviously a problem for Google".

Google claims there was no evidence of misuse of the data.

Google+ API's log data is only for kept two weeks, so it can not confirm which users were impacted by this bug.

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