- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Google is killing its failed Google+ social network four months sooner than previously planned after a security bug exposed the personal information of millions of its users, the company announced Monday.

A recent software update contained a bug that leaked the private information of approximately 52.5 million Google+ users to developers, including their names, birthdates and email addresses, among other data, Google executive David Thacker wrote in a blog post.

“We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced,” wrote Mr. Thacker, the vice president of product management for G Suite, Google’s cloud computing division.

“No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.”

Nonetheless, Google “decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019,” he wrote in the blog post.

Launched in 2011 as a competitor to Facebook, Google+ previously announced plans to shutter upon disclosing a bug in Oct. 2018 that affected upwards of 500,000 users, or less than one one-hundredth of the number of users affected by the subsequently discovered software glitch.

“We understand that our ability to build reliable products that protect your data drives user trust,” Mr. Thacker said Monday. “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.”

Google+ previously boasted of having 300 million active monthly users as of Oct. 2013, though a 2015 study found that only 6.7 million accounts had posted 50 times or more.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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