Google has begun sending US users of the now closed Google Plus social network an email informing them of a financial settlement in a class-action lawsuit against it.
The email says that if the user was a US resident who had a personal Google Plus account at any point between 1 January 2015 and 2 April 2019 (when the app was shut down), they can claim up to $12.
Users can file their claim here (until 8 October), and it comes after Google was sued for privacy flaws that hastened the demise of the failed social network.
Google had announced in October 2018 that it was shutting down Google+ or Google Plus (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+ in 2018 that exposed the private data of up to 500,000 users, to hundreds of third-party app developers.
Google was heavily criticised at the time for not disclosing the breach for months, and even US senators asked Google to explain why it delayed disclosing the vulnerabilities.
Such was the pressure on Google that in December 2018 it announced it was accelerating the “sunsetting” (i.e forced retirement) of Google+, after the discovery of a fresh bug.
Google+ had originally been scheduled to be shutdown for consumers in August 2019, but that deadline was pushed up to 2 April 2019.
As was inevitable, Google was sued over the data breach matter in the United States, and in the end it reached a $7.5 million settlement, that will only pay a maximum of $12 per person, and then only for roughly 450,000 people.
The per-person amount will decrease if more people file claims, 9to5Google reported.
It should be remembered that Google+ had been 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+, announced his resignation 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.
Google+ has now been replaced by Google Currents, which is being touted as social magazine app.
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