Alphabet to shut Google Plus social site after user data exposed

Google exposed user data, chose not to tell public - WSJ

Google neglected to report the breach to the public, allegedly out of fear that the company would face regulations and damage to its reputation, according to sources and documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

According to a WSJ report, Google's social media service, Google+, exposed the private profile data of nearly 500,000 users for the past three years; however, the company opted not to tell anyone about it, fearing that it would face both reputation damage as well as new regulations.

Shares of Alphabet Inc fell by about 1 percent in response to the story.

A bug in Google+ exposed the personal data of almost 500,000 people and Google chose not to disclose it out of fears of regulatory pressure.

Google+ was launched in June, 2011 as a way to compete with other social networks such as Facebook.

An email shared among senior Google executives and lawyers said that revealing the issue would lead to "immediate regulatory interest" and mean its chief executive Sundar Pichai being forced to give evidence in Washington.

The company says it didn't find any evidence that any of the affected personal information was misused.

"None of these thresholds were met here.", she said.

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Google has announced that they are closing the consumer functionality of Google+ due lack of adoption and an API bug that leaked the personal information of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts.

Many people probably aren't aware if they even have a Google+ account - here's how to check. Users' private messages were not affected, according to the company. In addition, 438 third-party applications may have used the application programming interface, or API, that allowed possible access to the data, according to Google.

"We discovered and immediately patched this bug in March 2018", Ben Smith, the company's vice president of engineering, wrote.

Google is also said to working on improving security elsewhere, including restricting developer access to things such as SMS, call logs, and contact data on Android and add-ons for Gmail.

The bug allowed app developers to access information like names, email addresses, occupation, gender and more.

Google says that 90 per cent of Google+ user sessions lasted for less than five seconds. Despite integration with the company's other, hugely successful products like Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube, Google admits usage is negligible.

Google said it launched an effort at the beginning of the year called Project Strobe created to review how other apps connect to Google +'s services, and that it was making other changes as a result.

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