Google said in the blog post that it "discovered and immediately patched" a bug in March 2018 that potentially allowed app developers to access profile data from users that had not been marked as public. A Wall Street Journal report cites sources briefed on the incident who say that Google executives willingly did not disclose the security breach out of fear that it would "draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage". The decision stems from Project Strobe, an internal effort started earlier this year with the goal of reviewing third-party developer access to Android and Google Account data.
"None of these thresholds were met here", they said.
The cover up: According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Google discovered a bug in Google+ code in March and promptly fixed it, but decided not to reveal its existence. Thankfully, according to Google, no developer was aware of the bug, was misusing the Google+ API, or had misused private data from users' profiles.
David Carroll, a United States professor who sued Cambridge Analytica in the United Kingdom courts to reclaim his data, told The Guardian: "Google is right to be concerned and the shutdown of Google+ shows how disposable things really are in the face of accountability".
Even if a third party did not exploit the security vulnerability identified by Google, the SEC probably would be interested in whether investors were properly notified about the risks and the incident, Stark said. It launched in 2011 as a competitor to Facebook, but it quickly became clear this was one that Google was not going to win.
The information exposed in the Google+ data breach included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation, and relationship status.
Google claims there was no evidence of misuse of the data.
But Google+ and the company's other experiments with social media struggled to win over users because of complicated features and privacy mishaps. Gmail add-on access will also be restricted to a small number of developers as part of the moves.
Google+ is finally shutting down on a particularly sour note.