Google Plus to shut down early after second security flaw revealed

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"We understand that our ability to build reliable products that protect your data drives user trust", David Thacker, vice president of product management for Google's G Suite products, said in a blog post.

The tech giant announced last October that it would shut down Google Plus due to low usage and cybersecurity challenges, noting that it had patched a bug in March 2018 that had briefly exposed private information of roughly 500,000 users. Google signed a consent decree with the FTC in 2011 to settle allegations that an earlier social media platform, Google Buzz, mishandled user data.

With this new API bug, the second one since October, the company made a decision to rush the retirement of the platform to April 2019, while all Google+ APIs will shut down in the next 90 days.

The disclosure comes one day before Google CEO Sundar Pichai is set to testify before Congress to address concerns about political bias on its platforms.

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Today Google officially announced that it recently discovered a new API bug that was released in November. Google+ was originally scheduled to shut down completely in August 2019, but now the timetable has moved up.

In addition to moving the Google+ sunset date four months forward, Google also said it would be shutting down all Google+ APIs for the Google+ consumer version within 90 days, way before its April 2019 shutdown date. Apps could also access the aforementioned profile information that was shared with another user but was not shared publicly.

Google said in a statement that the data was exposed for six days after being discovered during ongoing testing procedures but that there was no third party compromise of systems, and there was no evidence that the app developers were aware of the bug or misused it in any way.

The vulnerability possible exposed profile information to developers. "We continue to invest in our privacy programs to refine internal privacy review processes, create powerful data controls, and engage with users, researchers, and policymakers to get their feedback and improve our programs".

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