How to delete your Google account

Yolanda Curtis
October 9, 2018

Some of that qualifies as legally protected personally identifiable information, and its exposure could trigger scrutiny from federal and state regulators, including some who have probed Google before on similar issues.

Google+ has always been the butt of many jokes as a failed social network that refuses to die, but according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal and then an official response from Google itself, it looks like it's been home to a serious security vulnerability for three years that Google chose to not disclose to the public.

The Google+ vulnerability was discovered at a time that nearly coincided with the notorious privacy leakage scandal of the world's largest social media network Facebook, which has been widely criticized for its failure to protect its users' private data.


Google has admitted that adoption of the its social network and subsequent user engagement has been low, with 90% of Google+ user sessions lasting for less than five seconds.

A Wall Street Journal report published at the same time with Google's blog post claimed the API bug was far worse, and might have leaked user data since 2015, being only discovered when Google engineers started prodding Google sites for privacy leaks in preparation for the EU GDPR deadline.

The search giant said it will shut down Google+ over the next 10 months, to be completed by next August, to give people a chance to migrate their information and get used to the transition. There are additional privacy moves in motion here, too, with Google's Project Strobe security audit also meaning most third-party developers will no longer be able to access Android SMS data, call logs, and (some) contact information. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was briefed on the decision to not disclose the finding, after an internal committee had already decided the plan, the Journal said.


Google+ will live on in a limited capacity, however, as an enterprise tool. However, it's possible that data were abused and Google just doesn't know about it yet. However, Google said no other data, including private messages or phone numbers, could have been accessed, and that there's no evidence that developers were actually aware of this bug or that data was misused.

Google+ was created in 2011 and never seemed to gain much traction in the social media sphere, and eventually Google turned it into the underlying account infrastructure connecting its various Google software products, so you might not even realize if you're a member.

Google did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment. "None of these thresholds were met in this instance", the company said. Google was afraid it, too, would become the center of attention following Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, and as such chose not to disclose the information to its users.


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