By: Shelby Elit
Goodbye Google Plus
Google attempted to create a place where users can host all of their Google applications while having a social network appeal, this was Google+. Google+ had the intentions to be the new “it” thing. Google tried for years to build excitement and adoption, but things with Google plus didn’t go as well as planned. It was a social network that was different than Facebook. There were people and groups for people interested in anything from photography to dog owners to people who liked to cook. It was made for everyone but used by few. It had some usage but was more framed as a tech network in the end or more for businesses to use. To put it simply, it never took off as well as Google had hoped.
In March 2018, there was a security breach on Google+ user data. The Wall Street Journal later disclosed this information. There was a software bug that gave developers access to 500,000 users’ personal data. It was said that up to 438 different applications had access to this user information.Information such as name, occupation, address, gender, and age was released. There is no evidence that the data was misused, but still an alarming security issue, especially for arguably the world’s largest search giant. After the issue was found, Google immediately began to patch it up. Google chose to not announce this to the public until Wall Street Journal got ahold of the information. Google then released this blog talking about the security breach. According to national law, Google doesn’t have to legally announce that user data was released. If the information came out in a negative way, it could be a situation similar to Facebook.
When will Google Plus be shut down?
This won’t be an immediate closure. It is said the process to shut Google+ down will take about ten months. Google+ should be officially shut down by August 2019. Although the security breach is a big reason for Google+ to shut down, it was never a big hit on Google’s end. Google said Google+ has “low usage and engagement” with 90% of Google+ user’s sessions lasting less than 5 seconds. With this information, Google has decided to shut down just the Google+ consumer portion. They will keep Google+ for enterprise customers who use it to communicate within their companies. Google will focus on making it a “secure corporate social network”. The security breach just pushed them further in the direction of shutting down Google+. The shut down of this platform might not be a shock to many people who are familiar with it, but having it be a product from such a popular name adds to the shock factor. It was just something that wasn’t innovative enough to stick around with all of the other forms of social networks people have. It served more of an organizational purpose than a functional purpose for the time being.
Where will Google go from here as it relates to security?
Google will adjust its privacy settings on all other apps. Google wants every user to feel confident that the information they put into emails, personal data or anything on a Google platform is not being used anywhere else. That’s what all of us users want too, but we have the tendency to not read privacy settings and some of that stuff can slip through the cracks. They’re calling this security intensification Project Strobe and it has been in effect since early 2018. Since this security breach has been publicized, we think that there will be a strict focus on improving the privacy of all Google applications and protecting its users to prevent any legal issues. Specifically, Google will be implementing API changes that limit developer’s access to data on Android devices and within Gmail. The hope is that nothing like this happens again. Further updates with Gmail will also occur. Google plans to update their user data policy and limit what developers will be able to see. They’ve decided to implement a security assessment for any developer that will have access to user data. They will have to agree to new rules and how to handle data. This will add an extra level of protection to the people who are building these web applications.
All of this being said, Google advises users to check their security settings on all apps. For internet users across the globe, this is just another reason to be aware of what we’re sharing online. This security breach happened right around the same time Facebook had their security breach. Note to readers to check your privacy settings.
What to do with your Google Plus Platform
I’m sure if you have a Google+ account you have some followers and posts on there. The question is, what to do with these posts or how do you properly prepare to shut down your Google+ account. As mentioned earlier, it will take about ten months for the full Google+ system for consumers to shut down. That gives you have a little time to prepare. Our recommendation would be to choose which social networks are the most beneficial to your business and focus on them.
After you’ve done that, go through your old Google+ posts and see if there’s anything you can reuse on these other networks. Since you do have ten months to close down Google+, that’s an ample amount of time to guide your followers to your other social networks. Focus on the social networks you want to make the biggest push to, whether that be LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… this will be different for every company. A quick look at your Google Analytics and social data will tell you which ones are the most valuable. Start posting on your Google+ about the shutdown and tell everyone where they can find you with direct links.
If you have any questions as it relates to a Google+ phase-out strategy or sharing data online, contact Pico!