According to the Wall Street Journal today Google is shutting down it’s failed social network Google+ after it discovered a user data breach last spring. Google opted to not disclose the breach, and as part of its response to the incident, the Alphabet Inc. unit plans to announce a sweeping set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+.
Google+ was launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook Inc. and is seen as one of Google’s biggest failures. The incident has been described as a “software glitch,” that allowed third-party developers to access “private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018” The profile data that was exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status; it didn’t include phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data, one of the people said. Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, the people said. The internal memo from legal and policy staff says the company has no evidence that any outside developers misused the data.
A privacy task force formed inside Google, code named Project Strobe, has in recent months conducted a companywide audit of the company’s APIs, according to the people briefed on the process. The group is made up of more than 100 engineers, product managers and lawyers, the people said. It is unclear if Google will face any fines in Europe thanks to GDPR.