Google+ privacy flaw forces the service to speed up shutdown

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While Alphabet Inc. initially intended to shut down its Google+ social media platform by August 2019 following a data breach, the company has pushed forward the date to April after the discovery of yet another critical security flaw.

In Google’s announcement, it stated that third-party applications briefly had access to approximately 52.5 million users’ personal data, adding that “no third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the developers who inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way”.

So, are we safe?

The nature of the data that was exposed for almost a week was, thankfully, not financial in nature, but did include the affected users’ name, email address, occupation, images, age and more (see here for a full list).

Even if a user’s profile was set to private, or they had only shared this information exclusively with another user, their information was still accessible. However, Google has assured its users that no password or similarly critical data was affected.

As a result of this leak, the service’s shutdown has been pushed forward four months from August to April, and all Google+ APIs will be terminated in the next 90 days, ensuring no more third-party access or development using the platform’s data.

While this leak wasn’t as severe as the one we learned of in October, which exposed half a million users’ data for three years, this latest debacle for Google+ is well and truly the final nail in the coffin for the social media platform.