Google+ shuts down amid low usage, cybersecurity issues

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Google will permanently shut down Google+ on Tuesday, the embattled social media platform that struggled with low usage and a series of data security issues.

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Personal Google+ pages will no longer be accessible once the data deletion process is underway. Google said the entire deletion process of user pages, photos and videos would “take a few months.”

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Google first announced plans to shutter the social network last October. At the time, Google admitted the platform had “low usage and engagement” and disclosed that it had patched a security bug in March 2018 that briefly exposed private data of about 500,000 users, including names and email addresses.

In December, the company said it would shut down Google+ months earlier than it initially planned after discovering a second bug impacting more than 52 million users.

“We understand that our ability to build reliable products that protect your data drives user trust. 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,” the company said in a blog post at the time.

Google is one of several tech companies contending with unprecedented federal and public scrutiny related to cybersecurity practices. Facebook has also dealt with high-profile data privacy incidents, including the Cambridge Analytica breach that exposed personal data of up to 87 million users in 2018.

Initially launched in 2011, Google+ debuted as the company’s challenge to established social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However, the fledgling platform failed to attract a significant user base compared to its rivals.

Google said its social platform’s users could download and save content from their Google+ profiles prior to deletion, though it urged them to begin the process days before the shutdown. Other Google products, such as Gmail and Google Drive, are unaffected by the shutdown.

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Google has set up a frequently-asked-questions page for Google+ users here. The company said it will launch a version of Google+ aimed at businesses.