Google exposed user data, feared repercussions of disclosing to public

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Google is finally killing its bad social network Google+.

Technology giant Google has said that it was shutting down Google Plus for consumers amidst new scrutiny of the company for reportedly failing to publicly disclose a security bug affecting users of the service.

Google said in the blog post that it "discovered and immediately patched" a bug in March 2018 that potentially allowed app developers to access profile data from users that had not been marked as public.

Google's excuse is that it found no evidence of any of the data being misused, however, it also has no way of being sure of that.

"We have many enterprise customers who are finding great value in using Google+ within their companies", the internet firm said.

Google is at the centre of controversy this morning over a report of a massive user data breach that occurred past year, with the result that they will be introducing finer grain controls to limit access to user data on the web and Android - and also shutdown Google+ for consumers.

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"The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds", Google admitted today.

Up to 438 applications may have had access to the vulnerability, but Google said it had found no evidence that outside developers were aware of the security flaw and no indication that any user profiles were misused.

A Google spokesperson cited "significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers' expectations" along with "very low usage" as the reasons for the move.

Given the potential for abuse, and the fact that nearly no one is using Google+, Alphabet opted to take the path of least resistance and yank the doddering network off life support. In the meantime, Google says users should stay tuned for more information on how to download their data from the site, should they so desire.

Instead of seeing all requested permissions in a single screen, apps will have to show you each requested permission, one at a time, within its own dialog box. If an app wants access to a Calendar and Drive documents, for example, you can opt to share one but not the other. Apps with broad access to Gmail user data that have not applied for a new review by that date will be removed after February 22, 2019. They're also limiting app's access to your Gmail account moving forward, so only apps that "directly enhance" email functionality (like email clients and backup services) will be able to access your Gmail messages. Those rules don't apply to the Plus problem because Google discovered it before they took effect. "Our goal is to support a wide range of useful apps, while ensuring that everyone is confident that their data is secure".

Finally, the Android contacts API will no longer let third-party apps access interactions with contacts.

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