Google is closing the doors on the social network Google+ after user data was exposed from a glitch in software.
An estimated 500,000 accounts could have been affected in this data breach, with the following information exposed: full names, email addresses, occupation, gender, and age. There will be a transition period over 10 months, giving users the opportunity to grab their data and migrate it elsewhere. If you are an active user of Google+, stay tuned for more information on how to download data from the site – Google will provide instructions in the coming days.
Ben Smith, Google Fellow and Vice President of Engineering, announced in a blog post the many initiatives that Google will take to strengthen controls and policies on data privacy and security, including:
- Shutting down Google+ for consumers
- Launching Google Account permissions for users to have more control over data they choose to share with apps
- Limiting the apps that are authorized to use Gmail data
- Limiting Google Play to ask for permission to a user’s phone and call log
Farewell Google+ Consumer Usage
Google+ launched in June 2011 as a space to share photos, status updates, group messaging, and join interest-based communities. Additionally, the social network served as a powerful tool for Google search. In some instances, sharing a post on Google+ would likely to show up higher in search results because Google ranks their own social content higher and indexes the content faster.
Google+’s earliest years seemed promising. The social network had an estimated 90 million users in 2012 and the number of users continued to grow to 300 million after launch. However, consumer engagement on the platform remained fairly low, with 90% of Google+ user sessions lasting less than five seconds. The death of Google+ proves just how difficult it is to build a social network, especially with giants like Facebook as a direct competitor.
Enterprise Level Google+ Stays
The Enterprise product will remain, as Google believes this platform is “better suited as a product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network”, according to Ben Smith. In the Project Strobe review, the company highlighted that while Google+ had many challenges in maintaining success, the enterprise customers found great value in using the product. Additionally, there will be new features built for businesses that will be announced in the coming days. It will be interesting to see just how many companies will be using Google+ as an enterprise level product, with this issue of privacy and security in the consumers’ mind.