Posted by Andrew Kuemmerle, Trainee Solicitor
Google’s social media platform has shut down due to a ‘minor’ data breach.
On 8 October, Google announced that it would be shutting down the consumer arm of its social media platform, Google+, for good.
The decision comes after a Google launched “Project Strobe”, an investigation into third-party access to Google users’ data. The investigation revealed a security glitch in its software that exposed some of the personal data of Google+ users. Google managed to remedy the defect back in March but kept the incident secret for fear of getting caught up in the narrative around rival Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Google acknowledged that up to 500,000 users of their social network had been affected, with up to 438 different third-party applications having access to their data. In its statement however, they assured Google users that the issue was not serious enough to inform the public.
Their data protection team had decided that there was no need to inform consumers as there was no evidence of misuse of the data and no discernible pool of users had been affected.
Shortly after the breach was made public, the tech giant announced that consumer access to Google+ would be shut down and much improved privacy protections for third party applications would be put in place.
The tech giant seems to be choosing to cut their losses into their failed foray into the world of social media. If the data breach had been made public during the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica affair, it would surely have forced regulators’ hands to take more robust action in order to protect user data. Instead, Google+ waited for a more opportune moment, and now goes out with a whimper.