Google+ social media platform to be killed following revelations of privacy flaw

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Google said the affected data was limited to static optional Google+ profile fields including names, email addresses, occupations, gender and age.

In the blog post, Google said it did not immediately announce the problems with Google+ because it was not sure which users to inform, who they were and what affected users could do to protect themselves. It did not include phone numbers, the content of emails or messages, or other kinds of communication data.

Google says that going forward, rather than bundling permissions together for a single approval, each and every permission requested by an app will be shown one at a time, within its own dialog box. The undertaking is called Project Strobe, which looks "at the operation of our privacy controls, platforms where users were not engaging with our APIs because of concerns around data privacy, areas where developers may have been granted overly broad access, and other areas in which our policies should be tightened".

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Google found the issue with their API back in March but chose to ignore it and not report it to the regulatory bodies.

In a statement to BleepingComputer, a Google Spokesperson said that their Privacy & Data Protection Office felt it was not necessary to disclose as it did not meet the threshold that would warrant it.

For Google, a data privacy reckoning may finally come as a result of a service that it admits nearly no one uses much anymore. This bug could allow a user's installed apps to utilize the API and access non-public information belonging to that user's friends.

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However, it sounds like Google was ready to shut down the platform regardless of this issue, citing in its announcement the consumer version's "very low usage".

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company didn't disclose to its customers the data breach for fear of damaging its reputation as well as facing a potential for a regulatory inquiry. The error allowed the details of nearly 500,000 people to be accessed by the applications, even when they had demanded that they keep their data private. Somehow, the intimate data of the first user would be included in the collection profile.

When you hit that, Google will let you know what you're about to do and give you options to get more details about the implications of deleting your account. Contact interaction data will no longer be available via the Android Contacts API either.

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Do share your thoughts and opinions on Google+ being shut down in the comments section below. This method will better secure third party APIs with Google services, allowing for less data to be given to outside applications.

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