Google+ Announced its Shut Down After a Software Glitch exposed Info of 500k Accounts
Google Plus, an Internet-based Social Network owned and operated by Google was launched in June 2011. This social media platform experienced a lot of fanfare in its initial years and posed as a possible competitor to Facebook. The service had over 10 million users just two weeks after its launch.
Now, the world has been taken aback by Google’s out of the blue announcement of Google+ closure. According to the announcement made Google, Google+ would be fully shut down by August 2019, to allow users to download and migrate their information.
What differentiates Google+ from its counterparts?
Google+ was created to serve as a social spine for Google’s disparate services like Adwords, Youtube etc. Each service provided by Google had access to the features implemented in Google+ refraining the tech giant from implementing the same social features independently for the services it provided.
The idea & designing of this app is pretty much similar to other social networking services. However to differentiate Google+ from other social networking sites, Google integrated various unique features that are smartly designed to allow more transparency among users with respect to information sharing interaction with others. These include:
- Ability to post status updates and photos to the stream or interest-based communities.
- Group different types of relationships (rather than simply “friends”) into Circles.
- Group texting, video calling, events & location tagging.
- Ability to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums.
- It integrates all Google services like Circles, Huddle, Hangouts,and Sparks and displays a new Google+ menu bar on other Google services when you login to a Google account. Huddle and Sparks were eventually eliminated.
The Glory of Google+ soon became a huge potential threat to other social media platforms, particularly FaceBook. In fact, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg instituted a company-wide “lockdown”, to bring Facebook’s features into line with Google+.
However, Google+ underwent substantial changes leading to its redesign in November 2015. The subsequent changes in Google+ code led to the occurrence of a bug that could leak the private information of Google+ accounts. It became the primary reason for Google+ closure.
Google+ closure : Catalysts for the Dusk of Google+
All of Google’s efforts to elevate Google+ have gone in vain, as Google+ is now effectively dead. The 98 % decline in the engagement rate of Google+ depicts its demise.
The bug discovered in the recent code review of Google+ API could be leveraged in the following ways:
- Third Party apps that users installed on their device could gain access to user’s Public Profile information and also the Public Profile Information of their friends.
- These apps could also gain access to the information shared with the user but not marked as public, hence leak the private information of Google+ Accounts
- The non-public information that was accessible includes:
- Account Holder’s name
- Email Address
- Age etc
Google discovered this bug, after performing a code review of the Google+ API. This also couldn’t save Google+ closure form taking place.
The bug is known to have existed between 2015 and March 2018. Google immediately patched the bug and chose not to disclose it for the fear of regulatory scrutiny as the leak was pretty much comparable to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Consequences of the API Bug
API bug is known to have leaked the personal information of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts. However there is no news of this information being exploited.
The bug discovery acted as a final nail in Google+’s coffin. Though this is not the only reason for the closing down of this huge service, it definitely contributed.
The low usage and engagement of the current consumer version of Google+: Average time session being 5 seconds is another major reason of its downfall.
According to Google maintaining the product for the few people is not worth as it requires lots of efforts and expenditure.