As per a report, several users of Google+ had their data exposed to third-party developers back in March. The company decided not to disclose the breach because doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage. It said, “the Profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected.” The exposed profile data included names, email, demographic information and other profile data.
Google also mentioned it would shut the consumer version of Google+. However, it will sustain a version of the site as an enterprise communication tool.
Google+ was rolled out by Google in 2011 as a direct challenge to Facebook. It was like a successor to an earlier social effort called Buzz. This itself suffered a major privacy controversy and caused a Federal Trade Commission settlement resulting in privacy audits for 20 years.
Google+ evolved a lot of times but never really took hold. It also experienced numerous changes and updates over the roughly seven years of it’s existence. Though, it was never really able to develop into a self-sustaining social network against Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
Explaining and justifying the decision to close the consumer version of Google+, the company said, “The consumer version of Google+ currently has little usage and engagement. Also, about 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are for less than five seconds.” The final closure will happen in August 2019.
Since most marketers weren’t relying on Google+ heavily, it’s closure isn’t going to have a significant impact. But this breach has to be seen in the larger context of what is going on more generally with data privacy and security. Google as well as Apple are both now giving users more control over their data and the ability to limit what third parties can access. This trend should only continue.
This will likely add to the privacy debate and fasten the call for comprehensive federal regulation. This would help to prevent any new local privacy and data security laws, as states seek to take action against such data breaches.
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