Google launched Google+ in an effort to compete with their social networking rival Facebook in 2011. Like Facebook , users could connect with friends and strangers around the world. Improvements that made Google+ more user-friendly include longer posts, no advertisements, and focuses on topics of discussion. Several users consider the platform a learning environment where individuals around the world can share their knowledge of important topics.
When the social networking platform was not an immediate success measured in the billions, Google took a step back from direct management of Google+. Users were given the freedom to create profiles and connect with others on the social media network. There are still many active Google+ users that enjoy engaging with one another.
In March 2018, three years after Google pulled back on their efforts to establish Google+ as a social network rival for Facebook, the company conducted an internal review that audits user data collected by Google . The bug exposed the personal information about 500,000 Google+ users. The information disclosed includes: email addresses, gender, age, images, relationship statuses, places the user lived and occupations that he or she held during their lifetime. The information of the 500,000 Google+ users was available to around 440 applications associated with Google+. Google claims that their internal review showed no evidence that their software developers possessed knowledge that such a vulnerability existed in their infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the actions of Google and their employees have not been forthcoming. The internal review of the company occurred in March 2018. During that time, the company discovered the bug that exposed personal information about half a million Google+ users. Instead of revealing the issue to their consumers, Google remained silent on the vulnerability in their software.
An internal committee choose to keep the issue quite to avoid investigation into the matter by lawmakers. This is not the first time Google has been under scrutiny for issues related to their data collection procedures. In July of this year, third-party companies were being given access to Gmail accounts and they could read an individual’s emails. In August, Google was called out for tracking their customer’s locations when location settings are turned off.
The solution that Google came up with the handle the security breach with Google+ is to shut down the social media platform altogether. Users will have until 2019 to shut down their Google+ account and find another social media platform that they find acceptable or more secure.
Google appears to be having issues maintaining the safety and security of their clients. The best solution that the company can come up with to handle a security breach is to cut off a piece of itself that no longer functions properly.