The Vulnerability That May Cause Google+ to Shut Down

Social networks make it easier for you to stay connected with your friends. You can keep them updated with your life events and share with them what you’re up to.

However, the major issue with online platforms is that they create privacy concerns. Every few days, you may hear from your friends that their social media account got hacked. But if the platform is vulnerable, no one is safe. The same happened with Google+ that exposed the personal information of more 500,000 registered users during an audit.

Goggle+ Privacy Scandal

Social networking platforms are designed to protect the information of registered users from unauthorized people. However, Google+ failed to achieve this goal.

In early 2018, Google learned that the online platform’s back-end script had an undetected bug that could expose confidential information. It allowed more than 438 third-party app developers to access personal information of users who had opted to keep this private.

The bug was present since 2015 and who knows how many users may have suffered losses due to information leaks. However, the Vice President of the Engineering department, Ben Smith said that no evidence was found that any profile data was misused.

The team immediately started working to address the privacy issue and updated the platform in March 2017.

At that time, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal was still fresh in the minds of social media users and Facebook was being roasted for it. So, Google+ decided to hide this critical information from the public since the problem was already resolved. But they weren’t aware of the consequences of this decision.

The company decided not to disclose this information, fearing that it may trigger regulatory interest and they may have to face the wrath of the audience. Moreover, since there was no evidence of the misuse of private information, the team couldn’t identify which users to inform.

The Impact of Google+ Scandal

Despite having found the vulnerability more than seven months ago, the team of this social networking site preferred to stay silent, which isn’t at all approved by its users.

Google+ has 2 billion registered users worldwide and 395 million active monthly users, which is far less than other popular social network websites such as Twitter and Facebook. The estimated session length is just 3 minutes 46 seconds per visit. This privacy scandal proved to be the final nail in its coffin.

In October, Google announced that they are going to shut down Google+ social networking site over the next 10 months. However, the service will stay alive for enterprises that use this platform to improve communication among co-workers.

Moreover, Google will also improve its policies APIs. It will prevent developers from accessing private information of users. Last year, the company announced that they won’t scan the content of Gmail for advertisement purpose which is a good sign.

Google+ privacy scandal is a major setback for Google. The company needs to focus on improving its privacy policies for different platforms such as YouTube and Chrome to achieve customer satisfaction.

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