Google is shutting down Google+ for consumers following security breach

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Alphabet Inc, Google's parent company, said about 5,00,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected by a bug that may have exposed their data to external developers.

A review of two weeks of data in March, the company said, showed that as many as 500,000 people may have had their information at risk to developers from 438 software applications.

While Google says there is no clear misuse of profile data that occurred as a result of this breach, MacMillan of the Journal says it raises questions about the company's commitment to user privacy. "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", he said.

While Google has faced scrutiny in recent months for allowing third-party apps to access and share data from Gmail accounts, much of the privacy uproar hitting the tech industry has focused on Facebook. It said it had no evidence that any third-party developer was aware of the bug or had misused profile data.

Google+ will be closing down in August next year, however the company said it was looking at continuing an enterprise version of the product with greater user controls.

Although the Google+ breach was on a much smaller scale, it appears that staff were anxious about the possibility of Google being swept up in the tsunami of bad press that engulfed Facebook, which ultimately wiped $US60 billion off the social network's value. Ben Smith, Google's VP of Engineering, disclosed more information about the security issue, and how it was discovered.

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They said the firm would now "sunset" the app, which failed to truly challenge market leader Facebook, citing "very low usage".

"Even if the problem was an unanticipated bug, what is Google's defense for concealing that bug for six months, especially if users could have taken steps to mitigate the. sharing of their data?"

The WSJ reported that the bug gave developers access to information such as users names, emails, birthdays, pictures, work history, and relationship status.

Smith also announced in the blog post that Google will be launching more granular Google Account permissions and tightening up security permissions accessible via its APIs.

The incident also marks the beginning of the end for Google+, which the company plans to shut down over the next year.

Google+ is finally shutting down on a particularly sour note.

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