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Google Plus shutting down
Security & privacy

Google+ to shut down sooner after new data leak impacts more than 50 million users

Remember Google+? A few years ago, it was Google’s attempt at a social-media platform to take on Facebook and others. If you haven’t heard of it, then take that as an indication of its success.

People couldn’t sign up fast enough when it was initially launched as an invitation-only network in 2011. Jump ahead to 2015 and the writing was already on the wall as Google was starting to phase out the the service by turning its most successful features into standalone products.

Then this past October, a security flaw that for years exposed information for about 500,000 users was discovered. That’s when Google announced it was going to “sunset” the service in August 2019, since no one was really using it anyway (aside from extremists booted from other platforms). If only it ended there …

Details regarding a new bug were disclosed this week and it’s considerably larger than the last. More information was exposed, but this time for tens of millions of users. Now, Google says it’s speeding up the time frame to shut down the service, but you can close your account much sooner.

Another day, another data leak

Google says “some” users (some being 52.5 million) were impacted by a bug that was inadvertently part of a software update in November. For six days, Nov. 7 – Nov. 13, app developers had access to Google+ users’ profile information including their names, email addresses, occupations and ages. But Google says there’s no indication the exposed info was misused in any way. It also said the bug did not give the developers access to financial data, passwords or “similar data typically used for fraud or identity theft.”

Even so, Google decided to accelerate the shutdown of Google+. On Monday, the company announced that Google+ will now shut down in April 2019, moving up four months from the original plan of August.

Bonus: Kim’s Opinion: The real reason Google is letting you delete what you search

The following is an excerpt from Google’s blog entry detailing the leaking and updated timeline, authored by David Thacker, VP of Product Management for G Suite:

“We understand that our ability to build reliable products that protect your data drives user trust. We have always taken this seriously, and we continue to invest in our privacy programs to refine internal privacy review processes, create powerful data controls, and engage with users, researchers, and policymakers to get their feedback and improve our programs. We will never stop our work to build privacy protections that work for everyone.” Click here to read the blog in its entirety.

What you can do

If you have a Google account, you most likely have an accompanying Google+ account even if you didn’t specifically sign up for that service. With that said, it would be best to go ahead and shut that account down now instead of waiting for Google to do it for you next year.

First of all, check to see if you have a Google+ account. When logged into another Google service such as Gmail, click or tap on your profile picture. It will be at the top-right if viewed on desktop, or on top of settings (left side menu) on mobile. Once you click your photo, you should see your name followed by your email address and, if you have one, a link to your Google+ account. Click or tap that link to visit your profile page.

Google Plus profile

On the left side menu, look toward the bottom for Settings, then tap or click that option.

Google Plus profile settings

On the settings page, scroll all the way to the bottom where you’ll see an option to delete your Google+ profile.

Google Plus delete profile

That will take you to a confirmation page, making sure you’re aware of what else could be affected by deleting your Google+ account. But everything you still need can be accessed through your Google account login. Check the boxes at the bottom, then the button to delete.

Google Plus confirm delete

You’re all set. You’ll be asked to give the reason for your departure, but I didn’t see an option for “I no longer want my data leaked.” So pick another, click submit and the process is complete.

Google Plus survey

So long, Google+. We hardly knew ya …

Kim discussed the previous Google+ data leak in October. Click or tap below to listen: App background

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