Google+ shutdown brought forward following second data breach

For the second time this year, a data leak has hit Google+, this time affecting an estimated 52.5 million people

In October 2018, it was revealed that 500,000 Google+ users had been affected by a privacy flaw that was concealed by the company for six months. An estimated 52.5 million users have been victims of the latest data breach

Following the second data leak in 2018, Google has announced it will shut down the consumer version of its flailing Google+ social network four months earlier than planned. Originally scheduled to cease operating in August 2019, the network will now close in April next year, with application planning interfaces due to lose access in 90 days.

An estimated 52.5 million users have been affected by the latest breach, according to the US tech giant. Names, email addresses and other personal information were visible to developers for six days during November, even if profiles were set to private.

Google has assured users that no financial information or passwords were visible and no third-party apps had access to the data

Google has assured users that no financial information or passwords were visible and no third-party apps had access to the data.

Back in October, Google acknowledged a privacy flaw that affected more than 500,000 users, leading to the initial announcement of the cessation of the Google+ service. The Wall Street Journal reported that Google withheld the discovery for six months, fearing reputational damage. CEO Sundar Pichai was aware of the plan not to disclose the data breach.

On December 11, Pichai was set to appear before the US House of Representatives for the first time, with data privacy likely to be high on the agenda. Governments around the globe have contemplated tougher regulations on tech giants such as Google and Facebook.

Accusations that Silicon Valley is a hostile place for conservative viewpoints will also need to be answered by the CEO. According to Pichai’s pre-prepared written testimony, the chief executive will argue that he leads the company “without political bias”.

While the most recent data breach has not caused significant damage, it represents another embarrassing incident for the Google+ service, widely regarded as one of the company’s greatest failures.

Launched in 2011 to rival Facebook, use of the service had fallen to near zero, one of the reasons cited by Google when it initially announced the shutdown. However, developing Google+ for businesses remains a priority, the company said.