Cloud giant Google will close Google+ (Google Plus) on April 2, 2019, it was announced this week. Google+ is Google’s social network, which despite Google’s dominance in the search and email arenas, failed to gain traction. Launched June 28, 2011, at its peak in 2015 the network achieved 111 million active users - a number dwarfed by Facebook’s 1 billion active users.
On its introduction, Google+ leveraged Google Apps (now G Suite) - Google’s competitor to Office 365 which includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and a host of other collaboration and communication tools. Users signing up to Google Apps were automatically given a Google+ account. Many users were turned off by what they saw as Google pushing them into becoming Google+ users. Current active users have been advised to download images and content before the network’s termination date.
The decision to close the ailing social network came in 2018 when it was announced that a security flaw potentially enabled third-party developers to access the data of more than 495,000 users’ full names, email addresses, and details such as date of birth. Over 400 apps could have accessed this information, and while there was no evidence data had been breached, the situation was enough for Google to decide to pull the plug on Google+. Google has suggested a new “enterprise-focused” version of Google+ maybe in the pipeline, but there will no longer be private Google+ accounts post the closure date.
“We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API,” explained David Thacker, VP, Product Management, G Suite in December 10, 2018. “We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. 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”. He added, “With the discovery of this new bug … we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019.”