Here’s some sudden and disappointing news for all five of you who use Google+.
In a post here, Alphabet Inc (Google’s parent company) stated that they were shutting down the consumer version of Google+. The service will slowly be rolled back over the course of 10 months. Within the post, the company said that 90% of users only used the service an average of 5 seconds per session. Google elaborated on the service’s unpopularity by saying:
“This review crystallized what we’ve known for a while: that 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.”
A tiny and uninterested userbase wasn’t the only thing that contributed to the demise of Google+. In the post, Google publically revealed that there was a widespread privacy breach that affected over 500,000 users. Basically, the Google+ Application Programming Interface allowed third-party apps integrated with the service to access data that users had marked private. This data includes birthdays, email addresses, work history, and real names.
This breach was discovered back in March, but Google chose not to reveal the problem publicly. Presumably, they wanted to avoid a PR hit, as that was the same time that Facebook was being slammed in the media for not stopping Cambridge Analytica from stealing data from millions of users. It should be noted that while Google discovered the problem in March of 2018, the vulnerability had been present since 2015. Google quickly fixed the issue, but its lack of transparency with its users has eroded public trust in the brand.
Google thought they had stayed afloat after Twitter and Facebook drowned in controversy, but the public is now calling lawmakers to investigate and regulate the internet giant. Public backlash has already begun, and class action lawsuits can’t be far behind.