Google says social network bug exposed private data

Google to shut down Google+ after users’ data exposed

The company said it determined its course of action based on the data involved in the breach, lack of evidence of misuse and challenges in accurately determining which users to inform.

The Wall Street Journal separately reported Monday that Google executives delayed announcing problems with Google+ because of concerns about its reputation and the danger of sparking new pushes for regulation.

Google says that starting next year, only Gmail apps "directly enhancing email functionality-such as email clients, email backup services and productivity services (e.g., CRM and mail merge services)" will be authorized to access inbox data. The lawsuit was blocked in the High Court on Monday. Google says that a bug in the Google+ People APIs "meant that apps also had access to Profile fields that were shared with the user, but not marked as public".

Google made the announcement in a blog post after the Wall Street Journal broke news of the vulnerability. Google further said that the enterprise version of Google+ will continue.

"The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds", the company said.

For Google, a data privacy reckoning may finally come as a result of a service that it admits nearly no one uses much anymore.

"We have many enterprise customers who are finding great value in using Google+ within their companies", the internet firm said. This privacy breach, in addition to dwindling user numbers and engagement, has prompted the search giant to shutter the consumer side of Google+.

Several policies Google introduced on Monday are created to curb the data accessible to developers offering mobile apps on the Google Play store or add-on apps for sending and organizing Gmail messages.

A software bug was discovered that gave developers access to private profile data of over 500,000 users.

As a bit of a bright side, however, there was no evidence that any developer was even aware this bug existed, despite 438 applications using the API.

Google will wind down Google+ during the coming 10 months to allow people time to download pictures, videos or other data they want from their accounts.

The profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected. For example, if a developer requests access to both calendar entries and Drive documents, you will be able to choose to share one but not the other. "By giving developers more explicit rules of the road, and helping users control your data, we can ensure that we keep doing just that", reads the blog. Any Android app can ask permission to access a users' phone and SMS data.

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