First thing first and let’s get that straight – Google+ is shutting down.
Just like the #MeToo movement is preying on random celebrity sexual offenders across the globe, the tech world is dealing with a similar purge of its own. This purge is happening on the basis of a violation of privacy, and it has been hitting privacy violating companies with a lot of force. Mark Zuckerberg’s plight at Facebook’s data breach scandal will provide enough testament to the above-stated fact. But right now, it seems as if the long list is going to have another addition. A significantly big, six-lettered addition; Google.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Google indeed did expose the data of hundreds of thousands of users on Google+. More so, they didn’t feel like reporting it, fearing the backlash they were gonna face if they did. Well, you can at least be sure about the backlash now.
When Google Got Exposed
Here, unlike the breach in Facebook, it wasn’t intended by Google. The breach involved a software bug that had crawled itself into Google’s social media site. This bug allowed people to view the private information of the Google+ users. Before being discovered and fixed, the bug was active from 2015 to March 2018. The number of data breaches that could have happened in such a long time is unprecedented.
However, the people at Google felt that if they did report the incident, they were going to come under intense scrutiny. The reputation of the company will also take a hit. Possible comparisons might also be drawn to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. Hence, they refrained from letting the public know about it themselves. However, in a world with as many media revelations as there have been in recent times, they should have known that it was just an eventuality until someone caught wind of the incident and reported it. And allegations from a third party never have looked good.
Google’s Response to the Data Breach
As a response to the data breach, Google decided to let its parent company, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), release a set of privacy measures. However, one of the measures also includes shutting down all consumer functionality at Google+, which translates into the shut down of Google+. These measures are a means to bring about more control regarding privacy, especially in its most used apps.
Announcing the shut down of Google+, Google has revealed that the data breach potentially affected the 500,000 Google+ users. Google also said that the decision to shut down Google+ is also driven by the fact that 90% of Google+ users’ sessions last less than five seconds, which indicates the losing interest of users in Google+.
In a recent announcement, Google also said that it was going to cut down on the access provided to outside developers on user data on Android smartphones as well as Gmail. This happened after the Senior Lawmakers of the USA asked Google’s parent company, Alphabet regarding the company policy to allow third-party developers to access the content of emails for commercial purposes. Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, is also due to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in November of this year.
Google+ Is Shutting Down: The Inevitable Death
Regardless of the privacy scandal that Google finds itself embroiled in right now, not much has been made out of Google’s decision to shut down Google +. It is no secret that the social media site, once released to compete with Facebook, has been dying for some time now. With the breach, Google at least found a reason to do away with it once and for all.
Google has decided to shut down Google+ completely by August 2019. The elevon month duration is provided by Google to users who are still active on Google+ and its APIs, and need time to download all their personal data before Google pull the curtains down on Google+.
Now it would be interesting to see if Google tries to come up with a social media site at all, something which seems highly unlikely. But for now, they got ‘private‘ matters to address.