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Security bug affecting millions speeds up end of Google+

Google's logo on glass
Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google will accelerate the planned shutdown of its Google+ social networking service after discovering a bug that made it possible for developers to access private information on millions of users.

The big picture: Google chief executive Sundar Pichai will face questions about how the company protects user privacy when he testifies before a House committee Tuesday.

Details:

  • Google said in a blog post that "apps that requested permission to view profile information that a user had added to their Google+ profile — like their name, email address, occupation, age ... were granted permission to view profile information about that user even when set to not-public."
  • The issue applied to 52.5 million users.
  • Earlier this year, the company said it would shut off the service for consumers after user data was inadvertently exposed to developers.

Yes, but: "No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the developers who inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way," said Google vice president David Thacker in the blog post.

The backstory: Google+ launched in 2011 as a competitor to Facebook but never seriously challenged the dominant social network.

The bottom line: The Google+ consumer service is shutting down in early April 2019 instead of August 2019. Developer access to data will be cut off even sooner.