Google announced on Monday that it is shutting down its Google+ (Google Plus) social network for consumers, apparently doing so as part of its response to serious allegations raised this morning by The Wall Street Journal.
According to the Journal, Google discovered in March of this year that a software glitch in its API software caused Google to expose personal-profile information belonging to hundreds of thousands of Google+ users; according to the Journal, despite potential legal disclosure requirements, Google managers decided not to disclose the vulnerability to the public out of fear that doing so would both draw regulatory scrutiny and harm Google’s reputation, especially in light of the then-recent Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Google+ was, of course, Google’s response to Facebook that never quite caught on with consumers. Whether the termination announcement today is truly the result of the security issue or the press around it, or reflects a business decision that was merely accelerated by the disclosure, is the subject of much speculation. The shutdown is anticipated to phase in over time, with Google+ scheduled go totally dark by sometime next August.
Allegedly, the glitch enabled outside developers to gain unauthorized access to the relevant for quite some time – from 2015 until Google’s discovery in March of this year. Google believes that nothing nefarious was done with the information, however, and claims to have already fixed the problem.