In July 2018, Google was criticised for allowing employees from third-party apps to read emails if the app was integrated with a Gmail account. In the following month the Associated Press revealed that Google was tracking users’ locations regardless of whether they had turned off their phone location history settings. On Monday 8th October, Google released a blogpost which explained why Google+ was to be shut down in ten months.
Google+ is Google’s social media platform which builds off of your Google Account. The appearance is similar to that of Facebook or Twitter, however is not reliant on real-life contacts you import. It is for connecting with people who have similar passions.
In March 2018, technical staff discovered a bug which exposed the private data of up to 500,000 users of Google+. The bug had been allowing third-party app developers to access the data not just of users who had granted permission, but of their friends. However, Google has no way of knowing which third-party applications had access to private information because logs of API use is maintained for two weeks. Users were not made aware of the issue in March because Google hadn’t found anyone that had been affected. Ben Smith, the vice-president of engineering, wrote in the blogpost “We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google”.
The shutdown of Google+ is to be completed August 2019, therefore if you have a Google+ account, use the next ten months to migrate your information.