On October 8, 2018, Google abruptly announced the closing of Google+. Why now? As the story unfolded, we learned of a data breach in Google+ that spanned just over three years.
The data breach that helped the unfortunate demise of Google+ started in 2015 and was originally discovered by Google during an internal review in March of 2018. When the bug was discovered, it was quickly patched and Google quietly swept the problem under the rug. No Google+ users were notified about the potentially hazardous problem.
When The Wall Street Journal exposed the problem to the public, Google had to officially acknowledged the data breach. It was around that time, that Google decided to shut down Google+. This data breach affected around 500,000 users. Included in the data breach was a user’s full name, emails, occupation, age (and possibly birthdate), and gender. This was exposed to more than 400 Third Party developers. Google does claim that no data was misused or exploited. However, this gave little peace of mind to consumers who had their valuable information disclosed.
One of the biggest reasons Google has decided to shut down Google+ to consumers – Google+ is just not being used. The Google+ lead developers have conceded that Google+ never ended up coming close to the social platform they had intended it to be. The developers had hoped that Google+ would rival Facebook. However, Google+ never really got off the ground. They have cited that 90% of Google+ users only stay on the site for five seconds, or less. This basically equivalates to an accidental click on the link and closing the website as soon as it comes up. The Google+ shut down for consumers will take about 10 months, with a projected end date of August 2019.
Though Google+ will be shutting down to consumers, it will keep the function open for enterprise users. “Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network. Enterprise customers can set common access rules, and use central controls, for their entire organization. We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses.” – Ben Smith, Google Fellow and Vice President of Engineering
Google has promised to update their security and privacy policies among AP’s (third-party developers). Hopefully, this means that Google has taken the data breach extremely seriously and has learned the error of their ways. As the months progress, we will be carefully watching to see how Google+ will slowly shut down their platform to consumers.
Smith, B. (2018, October 8). Project Strobe: Protecting your data, improving our third-party APIs, and sunsetting consumer Google+. [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Krishna, S. (2018, October 8). Google is shutting down Google+ following massive data exposure. [Blog post]. https://www.engadget.com/2018/10/08/google-shutting-down-google-plus/
MacMillian, D. & R.. (2018, October 8). Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public [Blog post]. https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-exposed-user-data-feared-repercussions-of-disclosing-to-public-1539017194?mod=hp_lead_pos1
Baig, E. (2018, October 8). Google shutting down Google+ in the aftermath of a privacy glitch.[Blog Post]