News Update: Google to Shut Down Google+

Google+ has gone the way of the buffalo, but not for the reasons that many have predicted in recent years.

After coming clean about accidentally exposing 500,000 sensitive user records, Google shuttered its social network indefinitely.

In today’s digital era, data breaches aren’t much of a surprise anymore, but the devastating impacts remain a growing concern. Google’s move to completely demolish their foray into social media sends a powerful message.

Many messages, in fact.

A Brief Recap of the Life of Google Plus

Did you miss out on the Google+ craze in 2011?

Many marketers and businesses initially saw the platform as Google’s contender to Facebook. It was touted as a promising social media network for businesses to grow their online presence.

It didn’t work.

The user experience was lacking, offering watered-down features that reminded users why Facebook was still the network of choice.

The network has seen a number of facelifts, but they’ve never amounted to anything remarkable. With just 34 million active users and nearly 400 million accounts, it’s clear that Google Plus would never be a threat to Facebook.

Another issue that has plagued the platform for years is the number of spam accounts. Google’s spam filter failed to catch the majority of spam accounts and commenters, which may have contributed to a dwindling user base.

Suffice it to say, spam and security issues tend to be closely related. If it couldn’t send spammers back to where they belong, is it really much of a surprise that Google Plus security issues contributed to its demise?

Is Losing Google+ Really Much of a Loss?

First, if you’re thinking that the Google+ shutdown isn’t really much of a loss, you’re both right and wrong.

When it first launched in 2011, the platform quickly earned 10 million users within its first two weeks. Numbers climbed to 40 million within the first year. Statista notes that in 2018, nearly 60% of internet users were also on Google Plus.

That’s the total number of members. Engagement tells a much sadder story.

One analysis shows that of a random sampling of over half a million accounts, a whopping 90% had never posted anything. That’s a far cry from social media giant Facebook, where over 70% of its users are active daily.

The usage just never took off quite like other social media platforms, despite the fact that it’s powered by the Big G itself.

In this regard, the Google+ shutdown is a win for marketers who never saw its benefits and spent too much time and money trying to make it work. But the platform’s abrupt closure and the events leading up to it may just be a taste of what’s to come.

Google Is Sending a Message

It’s no secret that Google did the right thing by closing its social network. Even people that helped launch the product agreed that it was time to end it.

But its ghost town of a user base wasn’t the only trigger.

The major data breach fallout could have a ripple effect throughout the company. Closing the social platform could be the first step of many changes Google may see in the coming months and years.

The Data Breach Details

The latest Google news is that a bug in a third-party API is behind the Google security breach. However, it’s been noted that third-party developers were not allowed to have access to private profile data. The API was only allowed to log data for two-week periods.

Still, a 14-day span was enough for over half a million accounts to become affected.

Though the company generally notifies users of potential security issues, this particular problem didn’t meet the requirements. The company examines the data that was collected, if users need to be informed, if the data may have been abused, and if affected users could respond effectively.

Though federal law doesn’t require disclosure of data breaches, California state law does, under certain conditions. Disclosures are only necessary if a user’s name and either a social security number, driver’s license number, car tag number, or health insurance or information.

In this case, the criteria weren’t met for a disclosure, but Google deemed it necessary to spill the beans anyway.

Here’s the clincher: the breach actually happened months ago, not shortly before Google announced the Google Plus closing. Google opted not to disclose it for fear of attracting scrutiny from regulatory agencies.

Given the scandal of Cambridge Analytica, it’s easy to see why they waited.

What Happens Next

Now that the situation is being more closely examined by agencies and the general public, could other skeletons be found in Google’s security closet?

Google fessed up to the issue and closed their social media platform in response. Google is also reviewing and reforming their policies pertaining to the data it shares with third parties.

But it also has many questioning the security of other ways they use Google – or the internet, in general. Google is such a major player in the digital field that other companies follow their lead. Whatever moves they make in response to the data breach, they’re setting a precedent.

In this case, it’s the closing of a product that was never very profitable or beloved by the public. Other companies facing similar situations in the future may feel obligated to do the same.

This situation is a clear reminder that no internet company is immune to security flaws. As a result, other companies should examine their own practices to avoid sharing the negativity spotlight with Google.

Predictions for the Future of Social Media

Whether you loved Google+ or hated it, it’s clear why Google is closing Google+. In short, Google+ Security leaks and poor user experience lead to its demise.

Be warned that its closure will leave a lasting impact on the social media landscape.

Users may become more cautious as to what they share with online companies. Lost trust can be difficult to recover, and it will be more important than ever for companies to present an honest image moving forward.

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