Google has permanently shut down its Google+ social network after a software glitch gave outside developers potential access to private user data, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The data of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users were exposed from 2015 through March 2018, when Google discovered and fixed the problem. The technology giant opted not to disclose the problem last spring, the Journal reported, in part because of fears of attracting regulatory scrutiny.
In a blog post, Google said the information that was exposed includes full names, email addresses, occupation, gender and age. Its analysis reveals that the profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected, though it has no evidence of developer abuse.
The internal memo obtained by the Journal says that while Google has no evidence that outside developers misused, it has no way to know for sure.
Google responded by shutting down Google+ by next August, pulling the plug on a social network that it launched in 2011, in response to Facebook, but is widely regarded as a flop. The Alphabet-owned company also said Monday it would curtail developer access to user data on Android phones and Gmail.
The company said it will give consumers more control over what data apps can access.
The revelation comes at an awkward time for Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who has agreed to testify before Congress and answer questions about its work in China, its market clout and allegations of anti-conservative bias.