Google decided to keep a Google+ data breach that was discovered in March a secret to avoid drawing comparisons to Facebook and its Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Google is now shutting down the consumer version of Google+, as the social network will likely not be able to recover from such a security disaster.
Google+ Shutting Down After Data Breach
Google is now shutting down Google+, but not due to the lack of users and activity compared to rival Facebook. It took a data breach for Google to finally decide to pull the plug on the failed social network.
According to an official blog post, Google discovered in March that a bug in Google+ code allowed external developers to access the private profile data of at least 500,000 users on the social network since 2015. The compromised data were optional Google+ profile fields that included name, age, gender, occupation, and email address.
Google immediately fixed the bug and then claimed that it found no evidence that any developer abused the bug and misused Google+ user data.
Google+ User Data Compromised But Kept Hidden
The issue with Google's actions over the Google+ data breach, however, was not with how it fixed the bug, as it did so right away. The problem is that Google decided to keep the security incident a secret, amid fears that it will lead to "immediate regulatory interest" and draw comparisons to Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The scandal sent the internet into an uproar, giving rise to the #DeleteFacebook movement. Google did not want the same reactions against the Google+ data breach, so an internal committee decided to hide it after being discovered. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was informed of the plan to hide the security incident from the general public.
Google said that none of the requirements that will require to disclose a data breach were met by the Google+ bug, which is why it decided to keep it a secret until now. However, the move is being questioned by security and privacy experts.
"Users have the right to be notified if their information could have been compromised," said Friedman CyZen managing director Jacob Lehmann, attributing Google's actions to the scrutiny that Facebook received after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.