Google has pulled the closure of Google+ forward by four months thanks to a major data leak.
While Google initially linked the closure of Google+ to “very low consumer usage”, the tech giant has now admitted some users have been impacted by a bug in a software update; leading to the decision to shut Google+ down four months early.
In a statement posted to Google’s blog, G Suite VP of product management David Thacker said: “We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API.
“We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced.
“With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days.
“In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019.
“While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users,” he added.
According to Thacker, the bug impacted approximately 52.5 million users in connection with a Google+ API.
“With respect to this API, apps that requested permission to view profile information that a user had added to their Google+ profile—like their name, email address, occupation, age were granted permission to view profile information about that user even when set to not-public.
“In addition, apps with access to a user’s Google+ profile data also had access to the profile data that had been shared with the consenting user by another Google+ user but that was not shared publicly.”
As a result of this bug, Thacker said the sun will set on Google+ in just three months.
“We will sunset all Google+ APIs in the next 90 days.”
In October, Google admitted more than 500,000 Google+ accounts were left exposed to a bug in Google’s software.
This meant third-parties were able to access the users’ information.
At the time, Google vice president of engineering Ben Smith released a statement which said: “Every year, we send millions of notifications to users about privacy and security bugs and issues.
“Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice.”