Google is shutting down Google +
On October 8 2018, The Wall Street Journal published an article claiming that a bug was found in March which exposed Google+ user data to third-party developers. This created a wave of panic amongst the users. The newspaper further reported that Google intentionally hides this information from the user to avoid regulatory scrutiny and irreparable reputational damage. However, Google has clarified through their blog that it is shutting down its Google + service for ‘public’ and will only provide for ‘Enterprises.’
The search giant also said that their team, ‘Project Strobe’ (which reviews the third party developer engagement with Google accounts and android device data) found no proof about the misuse of this bug from any third party developer and misuse of any profile data from Google+. The company assured that when it came to their observation, they immediately removed this bug in the same month of March. Google also acknowledged in its blog that Google+ never received the attention of the public. Moreover, it has been seen that Google+ cannot engage a user for more than five seconds.
The incident which happened in March 2018 showed that Google found out a ‘bug’ in Google+ API which gave an opportunity to enter into Google+ private profiles. This allowed third-party developers to see data fields such as name, email, occupation, gender and age. However, developers had no access to Google+ posts. The search giant immediately removed that ‘bug’ in the same month but did not inform the users. This fear came to surface after Mark Zuckerberg had to face US Congress on allegations of ‘Cambridge Analytica data leak.’
This fear of disclosure consequences is not an imagination as it was evident that after the disclosure Google would have been in the same spot as Facebook and the CEO of the company, Sunder Pichai would have faced the same fate as Mark Zuckerberg did.
Jeff Hauser from Center for Economic and Policy Research said that this event showed the vulnerability of the search giant which now asks for the interference from regulatory bodies. He further questioned the capability of Google and Facebook to control the huge data collected by these respective digital platforms.
On the other hand, there are no federal laws that will put pressure on Google to publicly admit the data leaks. Although the state Google based in –California- state law suggests that companies need to disclose the data leaks in case a person’s name, Social Security number, ID card, driver license number, license plate, medical information or health insurance information. Google escaped the California law because the leaked data contained static data such as name, email, occupation, gender and age. Besides, Google’s Vice President of Engineering, Ben Smith has already clarified that they did not find any 3rd party developer was aware of this bug neither they found any proof of profile data abuse.
Therefore, we can say this time Google was lucky and the fate was with Sunder Pichai who did not face a Senate Committee like Mark Zuckerberg did for data leaks.