Google is doing itself a disservice by keeping Google+ on life support. The “ghost town” of a social network (yes, yes, I know it still has a handful of rabid fans) has only two purposes nowadays: having your data stolen and being the butt of jokes.
In October, Google announced Google+ will be shutting down for consumers in August 2019 following the discovery of an exploit that could have allowed malicious developers to collect the data of hundreds of millions of users. The company said it had uncovered the vulnerability in March 2018 as part of Project Strobe, a 100-person team charged with conducting a sweeping review of third-party developer tools that permit access to Google account and Android device data.
Earlier this week, Google announced Google+ will be shutting down for consumers in April 2019 following the discovery of another security issue potentially affecting 52.5 million users. Profile information that could have been revealed includes users’ name, gender, skills, birthday, email address, occupation, and age (full list).
At this rate, if Google discovers a third Google+ security issue in February 2019, it would have to shut down the service right then and there. Google shouldn’t wait.
Those 52.5 million users — they’re not actively using Google+. But their data is still stored in Google+, ripe for the picking. Google+ is only causing security headaches and continuing to hurt Google’s brand.
Why risk keeping Google+ around for four more months of potential exploitation? Put another way, why spend the resources to secure Google+ for another four months? What does Google stand to gain?
To make matters worse, Google isn’t even completely shutting down Google+. Despite all the news around Google+’s security issues, Google is only planning to shut down the consumer version of Google+. That’s right: Google+ is going to keep going in 2019, but just for enterprise customers. The company said so in October and reiterated as much this week: “In addition, we want to reiterate that we will continue to invest in Google+ for enterprise.”
This makes very little sense. Of all the types of users, enterprises are the ones that care the most about security and care the least about social.
Google should bite the bullet and put Google+ out of its misery.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.