While many people were probably surprised that Google+ still existed, it was announced earlier this week that Google is shutting down its ailing social network after covering up a gaping data breach that exposed the personal details of 500,000 people.
The flaw exposed people’s jobs, ages, and location information and allowed hundreds of apps to access personal data, even when users opted to keep their details private.
According to Google, private information could be accessed by up to 428 external apps, including online games and quizzes.
The company discovered the vulnerability in March but only brought it to light on Monday after reports began circulating throughout the media.
It is thought that the company decided to keep the issue quiet after fearing that the issue would lead to “immediate regulatory interest” according to an email shared among senior Google executives and lawyers.
Google says that it will take no less than 10 months to completely shut down the network, although a version for business will remain open.
The company said that it won’t identify the individuals that had been exposed to the flaw, as it it automatically deletes data about which apps access profiles every two weeks.
According to experts, the flaw is similar in design to the one that Cambridge Analytica accessed the information of millions of Facebook users.
In a blog the company said that, “we found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.”
How to delete your Google+ profile
CyberScanner advises that users close their accounts in order to avoid any exploits that still exist within the Google+ system.
To close your account, click on your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of the screen while in Chrome or in Gmail. Click on “Google+ Profile” and deactivate your account by clicking “Settings” and then “Delete your Google+ profile”.