Google+ to shut down after breach involving 500,000 users

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The company stated in its post that there was no evidence "that any developer was aware of this bug, or. that any Profile data was misused". We do know the affected accounts had their full name, email addresses, birth date, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation, and relationship status exposed. A bug in the API could have allowed outside developers to access the data of 496,951 users who had only opted to share their private profile data with friends. Instead, it's due to Google uncovering a major security vulnerability that exposed the information of up to 500,000 accounts.

The cover up: According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Google discovered a bug in Google+ code in March and promptly fixed it, but decided not to reveal its existence.

Google+ was launched in 2011, quickly becoming a failed attempt to compete with Facebook.

Smith said that when users grant permissions to access SMS, Contacts and Phone data to apps, they do so with specific use cases in mind, again indicating that the present policies have given developers overly broad access to people's information.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has agreed to testify before Congress in the coming weeks, according to the Journal. However, the firm "found no evidence that any Profile data was misused". "Our goal is to support a wide range of useful apps, while ensuring that everyone is confident that their data is secure".

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Google goes "beyond legal requirements" and applies "several criteria focused on our users" when deciding whether to provide notice, a spokesperson said in a statement. In fact, 90%of Google+ user sessions only last less than five seconds.

The security flaw will mean the end of Google+ for consumers, the company said. A spokeswoman for Google didn't immediately return a request for further comment.

The search giant states that it wasn't able to maintain "a successful Google+ product that meets consumers' expectations". It is a root-and-branch review of third-party developer access to Google accounts and Android device data and of the philosophy around apps' data access.

Today, after over 7 years of existence, Google is shutting down Google+ for good-although its low user base surprisingly wasn't the main factor behind this decision.

Now, "Only apps directly enhancing email functionality ... will be authorized to access this data", Smith assured.

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