While the search engine and cloud computing giant will undoubtedly continue to thrive, at least one aspect of Google is coming to an end: Google+. According to official statements, there are several different reasons for this – including subpar levels of user engagement and a recent data breach that compromised the personal information of 500,000 users.
Although there is no evidence that any of this data was accessed or used for malicious purposes, the fact that data breaches are occurring amongst the major tech giants is certainly a cause for concern.
Enter Project Strobe
Google's Project Strobe – one of their lesser-known initiatives – was launched in early 2018. It's a system that provides internal review, analysis, and auditing of privacy controls, policies, and standards – and it's this system that is ultimately bringing an end to Google+.
A recent blog post by Google reads, in part: "Over the years we’ve received feedback that people want to better understand how to control the data they choose to share with apps on Google+. So as part of Project Strobe, one of our first priorities was to closely review all the APIs associated with Google+."
Specific details of the recent data breach were also unveiled through Project Strobe's latest report. Although the data includes information like first and last names, email addresses, professional occupations, genders, and ages, it didn't include Google+ content like public or private messages. Data from Google accounts and any G Suite content was also left unaffected.
The team with Google moved quickly and immediately patched the hole. Additionally, they narrowed the problem down to an erroneous API interaction that resulted from a recent coding change in Google+.
Although Project Strobe's report revealed that this data was never improperly accessed or misused in any way, the developers ultimately decided that it was best to shutdown Google+ once and for all. It was launched as standalone social network in mid 2011 and, although it reached over 110 million active users in 2015, it never could compete with the likes of Facebook or LinkedIn.
Google's recent blog post went on to say: "The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+."
'''It's Not Over Yet'''
Despite the official announcement, Google+ is still available to current and new users – although they're not likely to see many new signups. The development team at Google+ has set a final deadline of August 2019 – meaning users still have time to access their content before it goes dark for good.
It's unclear if Google is planning any sort of replacement for Google+. While it certainly appears that Google is bowing out of the social media game for good, there's no telling what the team might have up their sleeves for the future.
To find out more information on Google, including any of the latest developments, please visit their official website at www.google.com.
Massive Data Breach Marks the End of Google+
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