It recently came to light that Google+ had exposed the data of around half a million users to the public, prompting Google to shut down the “social network”.
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Recently, it came to light that Google+ had exposed the private data of some 500K Google+ users, due to a flaw on the “social network”. Due to a mistake in programming, developers using Google+’s APIs were able to view specific information users had not marked as public, such as full names, email addresses, relationship status, gender, birth dates and others. Supposedly, this flaw in the APIs lasted from 2015 to the beginning of 2018 until it got patched, with Google choosing not to disclose it, to avoid public and legal scrutiny on how the company handles users’ data.
Furthermore, Google specified they were unable to identify and inform the affected users, estimating that around 500K of them may have been affected by this issue.
The closure of Google+ only affects “consumers”, and the platform will be phased out over the next few months. Google plans on keeping Google+ available to enterprise users.
Although exposing the data of some 500K users, at this point in the tech industry, is not much, and could have been worse, such as Facebook’s recent hack where some 30 million users may have been affected, this shows how strong regulation such as GDPR can help protect users and harshly punish these big companies for failing to disclose and protect the users’ information. The media, the public and regulators are very busy attacking Facebook, without realizing how much more information Google holds on all of us, and how the American giant could use this information against us, or how somebody getting access to all this data could use it in a negative way. Something should be done to ensure this will never happen, such as limiting the amount of information a company can handle, even at the expense of sinking a giant such as Google, that relies on user data to target their ads.
In any case, one thing can be said: nobody will miss Google+, the “social network” having been pushed on most of Google users without a choice (such as by merging YouTube and Google+ accounts) and failing to grasp the users’ interest.
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