If you tried to log into Google+ today, you may find that your Google+ page has disappeared. After announcing in October of 2018 that Google+ would be shut down, many pages today are finally inactive. Google+ is joining a list of failed Google products, lasting from 2011 to 2018.
Google+ was Google’s attempt at a social network, launched at a time when Facebook and Twitter were taking off. Unfortunately, the platform never got much traction. The shutdown of this feature comes in the wake of low usage and engagement and a data breach that, while minor, Google decided was not worth fixing.
The original rollout of the shutdown was planned to take 10 months, to be completed in August of 2019. Another bug issue in November of 2018, however, led Google to speed up the process so that it would be complete in April.
Google + Data Breach
A Google+ data breach left some user information exposed, giving outside developers access to private user info from 2015 to 2018. This issue in the Google+ API was resolved in March of 2018, but the company chose not to inform users of the breach until October, when they announced the shutdown of this platform.
It is unclear how many were affected by the privacy breach, but Google estimated up to 500,000 accounts may have been vulnerable. The data revealed was relatively harmless; only information like name, email address, occupation, gender, and age could have been accessed. No private messages, Google+ posts, phone numbers, G Suite content, or other data was exposed.
In a blog post, Google explained the breach and stated that while they cannot confirm which accounts may have been affected, they believe that there was no misuse and no developers noticed nor took advantage of the bug. They stated that:
“We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.”
Low Usage on Google+
Another reason for the shutdown of Google+ is the lack of usage and engagement on the platform. In that same blog post, Google revealed that 90% of Google+ user sessions last less than 5 seconds.
Google+ failed to compete with social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While a small segment of users were dedicated to Google+ and are sad to see it go, the platform was generally unpopular.
Google+ for Enterprise
While the consumer version of Google+ is dead, Google plans to roll out more features for Google+ for enterprise. Businesses using G Suite have found success using Google+ as a collaboration tool. Google stated that:
“Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network. Enterprise customers can set common access rules, and use central controls, for their entire organization. We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses.”
For more information about changes to Google+ as they close out the consumer version and transition to Google+ Enterprise, check out this update from Google.