Irish data regulator seeks information from Google on security bug

Joanna Estrada
October 9, 2018

Since most marketers weren't relying on Google+ heavily, its closure isn't going to have a significant impact. We'd wager a lot of you already thought it was gone, honestly.

Google+ launched in 2011 as the advertising giant grew more concerned about competition from Facebook, which could pinpoint ads to users based on data they had shared about their friends, likes and online activity. Google declined to comment beyond its blog post.

In the announcement, Google also announced raft of new security features for Android, Gmail and other Google platforms that it has taken as a result of the bug. While this fairly transparent postmortem allows us to answer what ended Google's grand experiment in social networking, there's still one questions left unanswered. Where are the soon to be orphaned Google+ users supposed to go?

When you hit that, Google will let you know what you're about to do and give you options to get more details about the implications of deleting your account.

"We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused", Google said in a blog post. So, for example, your default messaging app will have access to SMS permissions, and the default dialer can access Call Logs.

The long and short of the issue is that there was a security hole that allowed third-party developers to access Google+ users' account data, including name, email address, occupation, gender, and age-even if the account was set as private.

The issue was discovered and patched in March as part of a review of how Google shares data with other applications.

The consumer version was found to have low usage and engagement, with 90 percent of Google+ user sessions lasting fewer than five seconds, according to the firm.

However, it seems the corporate world has had much better luck with Google+ than consumers.

Google has found that businesses have been using it as a secure internal social network of sorts, and they are looking to capitalize on that going forward. It's worth noting this is the same way Google handled the transition of Hangouts from being merely the defacto chat application on Android to being a business product meant to compete with Slack.

Shortly after this report was published, Google released its full response outlining how it plans on covering its butt and keep data safe under an initiative called "Project Strobe". Meaning that if you want to delete your profile before then, you're going to have to do it yourself.

Google came under criticism for refusing to send a top executive to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on September 5 about efforts to counteract foreign influence in United States elections and political discourse.

Crucially, the people who were active on Google+ were nearly exclusively doing so in an effort to avoid Facebook to begin with, so that's simply not a viable option.

'It does not include any other data you may have posted or connected to Google+ or any other service, like Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers or G suite content, ' Smith explained.

Security and privacy experts and financial analysts questioned the decision.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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