Google is going to shut down the consumer version of Google+ over the next 10 months, the company writes in a blog post today. The decision follows the revelation of a previously undisclosed security flaw that exposed users’ profile data that was remedied in March 2018.
Google says Google+ currently has “low usage and engagement” and that 90 percent of Google+ user sessions last less than five seconds. Still, the company plans to keep the service alive for enterprise customers who use it to facilitate conversation among co-workers. New features will be rolled out for that use case, the company says. Google is focusing on a “secure corporate social network,” which is odd considering this announcement comes alongside news that the company left profile details unprotected. The memo viewed by the Journal said that disclosing the incident publicly would possibly trigger “immediate regulatory interest” and do damage to the company’s reputation. Reporting the incident would result “in us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal,” it warned.
The Journal reported that the Google+ breach exposed Google’s “concerted efforts to avoid public scrutiny of how it handles user information” at a time when regulators and the public are trying to do more to hold tech companies to account.
Google goes “beyond legal requirements” and applies “several criteria focused on our users” when deciding whether to provide notice, a spokesperson said in a statement. The company said it had considered whether or not it could accurately identify which users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response. “None of these thresholds were met here,” the spokesperson said. see more