Another day, another data scandal, or so it seems. Today, it’s Google+.
Fresh off the heels of last month’s Facebook data breach, Google announced yesterday it will shut its fledgling social media site Google+ after it was discovered that a bug in its software left private information of up to 500,000 users accessible by third-party developers. Really, again?
What’s more, an expose by the Wall Street Journal revealed that although Google knew about the bug in March, and took steps to remedy it, it did not go public with it. Amidst the Cambridge Analytica scandal that was unfolding at the same time, it seems Google didn’t want to make matters worse. Turns out, it did.
What Is Google+?
Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook, a social network allowing users to share posts, photos, location, etc., with those they connect with. Launched in 2011, Google says that shutting the network was timely, with Google+ suffering from low usage and user engagement. Turns out, 90 percent of sessions lasted less than five seconds. Doesn’t sound so popular to me. It will, however, be kept open to business users, who often use the tool to communicate with co-workers.
Whose Data Was Leaked?
Project Strobe, a project that Google launched this year to audit third-party developers’ access to user information, discovered that one of Google+’s People APIs allowed 438 external apps to obtain users’ personal information. Even if users had adjusted their privacy settings to make them private, the data was still leaked. Exposed information included names, email addresses, occupations, genders, and ages.
Although Google says that it is unaware of any third-party developers who abused the bug, it has apparently been around for 3 years and gone completely unnoticed in all that time.
While Google has maintained that the breach was fixed in March, users have the option of deleting their accounts by logging into their Google+ account. With the shutdown not expected to be completed until next year, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry. Simply go to “settings” and scroll down until you find the option to “delete your account”. With the pervasiveness of Google, a breach that went unnoticed for 3 years is terrifying. Imagine how much information you share with Google each time you do a quick Google search. Or send out an email using your Gmail account. Watched a video on YouTube? Google knows.
Feel like going on a complete social media cleanse? Why not try deleting your Facebook, or at least taking steps to ensure your data is safer? Also, If you want to chat about all things family and technology with a group of like-minded parents, head over to our closed FamTech community and join us as we:
- Discuss the journey of parenting in a digital age
- Share the latest on all things family and technology
We can’t wait to hear your thoughts!