Google has decided it will accelerate the “sunsetting” (i.e forced retirement) of its Google+ social network after the discovery of a fresh bug.
It comes after Google announced in October that it was shutting down Google+ (for consumers) because of low user engagement.
The firm cited the platform’s low usage, but in reality Google had been in hot water over its decision not to reveal a data breach in Google+ that exposed the private data of up to 500,000 users, to hundreds of third-party app developers.
Google+ had orginally been scheduled to be shutdown for consumers in August 2019, so consumers had less than a year to download and save any data they want to retain.
But now this deadline was been bumped up to April 2019.
The announcement came in a blog posting by David Thacker, VP product management of G Suite.
“In October, we announced that we’d be sunsetting the consumer version of Google+ and its APIs because of the significant challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations, as well as the platform’s low usage,” wrote Thacker.
“We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API,” he wrote. “We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.”
“With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days,” Thacker wrote, before dropping the news that the platform’s shutdown would be accelerated.
“In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019,” he wrote. “While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.”
“We want to give users ample opportunity to transition off of consumer Google+, and over the coming months, we will continue to provide users with additional information, including ways they can safely and securely download and migrate their data,” he added.
But it seems that Google will maintain the product (at least for the time being) for the enterprise sector.
It should be remembered that Google+ was intended to be a rival to the mighty Facebook (despite Google’s claims to the contrary).
The Google+ arrival saw it replace its previous incarnation, namely Google Buzz.
Indeed, as Facebook’s growth continued unchecked over the years, it seemed that Google+ was being quietly retired by the search engine giant.
Matters were not helped when Vivek “Vic” Gundotra, the man responsible for Google+, resigned in April 2014 amid rumours that Google was scaling down its social networking project.
Google had also angered many users when it integrated YouTube accounts with Google+. It later reserved that decision.
But the search engine gave Google+ a facelift in 2015 as the firm sought to continue shifting its focus away from people and more towards personal interests and communities.
Yet despite that, Google+ struggled to attract new users outside of a dedicated fanbase, making its decision to pull the plug on the consumer version an easy one to make.
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