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Google to kill Google+ early after exposing personal data of more than 50 million

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Google will end Google+ sooner than expected after another security issues.
Google will end Google+ sooner than expected after another security issues.

Image: Getty Images / sean gallup

Google will end the consumer version of its ill-fated social network Google+ in April, four months earlier than expected, after finding another security issue impacting more than 50 million people.

In a blog post Monday, Google said that a November software update caused the Google+ API to inadvertently make users’ personal information viewable to developers, even if they had opted to keep their details private. The bug was addressed after six days, and users’ passwords and financial data were not impacted, according to the company.

“No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the developers who inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way,” Google wrote. The company said it’s working on notifying the 52.5 million people whose profile data was potentially exposed due to the bug.

Still, the incident marks yet another major embarrassment for Google, which once had high hopes for Google+. The site was conceived in 2010 as a way for the search giant to compete with Facebook. But the product was hindered by poor leadership, according to former employees, and it failed to gain traction with users.

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that a separate security bug, which went undiscovered for three years, inadvertently exposed the data of more than 500,000 people. Google reportedly opted not to disclose the issue out of fear of regulatory pressure. 

But the incident prompted the company’s announcement that it would shut down Google+ for good in August 2019. The latest security issue has now sped up that timeline, with plans to kill the consumer version of Google+ for good in April.

The disclosure also comes one day before Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to testify before Congress on a range of issues, including the company’s treatment of conservative viewpoints and its controversial work in China. 

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