In the wake of the publishing of The Journal's story, Google announced in a blog post late Monday morning that it had closed down the social networking service for consumers.
Google also announced that, in addition to shutting down Google+, it's revamping its account permissions to allow users to pick and choose which data they share with third-party apps. "We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused", the company said.
Back around 2014 and 2015, many would call Google+ a "ghost town" because there just weren't that many people using the service, like there were on Twitter or Facebook. In the aftermath of what appears to have been a major security flaw within Google+, the company ended up not disclosing the breach of information to its users. "Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we made a decision to sunset the consumer version of Google+", Google said in the blog announcement. The breach happened after a software glitch in the site gave outside developers potential access to private profile data including names, email addresses, birth dates, genders, occupations and more.
The company said that its review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ "that meets consumers" expectations'. Before the bug was fixed, the API could have been exploited by applications connected to Google+ accounts to access the private parts of those profiles.
Google Plus was also very user friendly, allowing people to share announcements with friends very easily. Facebooks' breakdown exposed the personal information of as many as 87 million of its users to Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm affiliated with President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
If you're still using Google+, Google says that consumers will have a 10-month period to get ready for the closure and migrate their data. In other words, when an app requests access to Google account data, multiple dialog boxes pop up, each with a request for a particular permission, rather than one large dialog box with all the requested permissions (i.e. location, contacts, calendars) lumped together. Gmail add-ons access will also be limited.
Android data access is being restricted to app developers. Any Android app can ask permission to access a users' phone and SMS data. The company did not check up with any of the developers of the aforementioned 438 apps.