Google pulls the plug on creaking social network
Publish date: 10 October 2018
Issue Number: 1753
Diary: Legalbrief eLaw
Google announced it is shutting down the consumer version of its online social network after fixing a bug exposing private data in as many as 500 000 accounts. In March, as Facebook was coming under global scrutiny over the harvesting of personal data for Cambridge Analytica, Google discovered a skeleton in its own closet: a bug in the API for Google+ had been allowing third-party app developers to access the data not just of users who had granted permission, but of their friends. If that sounds familiar, notes The Guardian, it’s because it’s almost exactly the scenario that got CEO Mark Zuckerberg dragged in front of the US Congress. The parallel was not lost on Google, and the company chose not to disclose the data leak in order to avoid the public relations headache and potential regulatory enforcement. A report on the News24 site notes that the search giant said it will ‘sunset’ the Google+ social network for consumers that failed to gain meaningful traction after being launched in 2011 as a challenge to Facebook. Google will wind down Google+ over the next 10 months to allow people time to download pictures, videos or other data they want from the platform.