Google+ is due to close to consumers four months earlier than expected on April 2nd. This decision follows a series of security flaws and data exposure experienced by the platform, coupled with low user turnout.
Google's attempt at a social media platform held promise when it was first launched in 2011, with 10 million users signing up in the first two weeks. The industry giant's successful venture into the social sphere was short-lived, however, with total number of monthly users quickly dwindling compared to its dominating peers including Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Google confirmed this fact for themselves, saying in a blog post: "...while our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps. The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds."
Google announced their decision to close Google+ in December 2018, stating that the reason was due to "low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations”. These “challenges” may relate to the issues that led to the closure of site features ‘Huddle’ and ‘Sparks’, which were originally released with the platform, alongside ‘Hangouts’ and ‘Circles’.
A large-scale data breach in 2018 was an additional driving catalyst in the company's decision to shut down the platform. In a second blog post, Google released information on a bug that had caused wide-scale data exposure for users. The company cited "the need to protect users" as the reason for the expedited shutdown of the site. Google confirmed that approximately 52.5 million users were affected by this bug, admitting that third-party apps previously linked to users' Google+ accounts had been able to gain access to private information, including their email address, occupation, age and more.
It was speculated that Google knew about the breaches for months before disclosing the information, aiming to avoid a wide-scale scandal that other social platforms had been experiencing at the same time. This helped to further discussion on the need for immediate disclosure of large-scale hacks, a prominent topic of conversation while GDPR is in full effect.
If you were a Google+ user and have data on the site that you wish to save, you can download this data using a link emailed to all Google+ account holders. Photos and videos will be saved to Google Photos for easy access and storage, however all other content on Google+ will be deleted.
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