Social network Google Plus (stylised asGoogle+) will now be shut down earlier than planned, following the discovery ofa bug affecting more than 50 million users.

Google+ waslaunched in 2011 as an attempt to launch a social network competitor to Facebook.The platform was integrated with other popular Google services, includingYouTube. Although Google+ attracted some initial interest, user engagementquickly dropped and has remained consistently low ever since.

In October 2018, Google announced that the social network would be shut down, following a Wall Street Journal report which found that the company kept quiet a security breach first identified in March, which potentially exposed the personal data of half a million users. An anonymous source speaking to the Wall Street Journal claimed that senior Google staff had not disclosed the vulnerability due to concern about reputational damage, new regulation and CEO Sundar Pichai being required to testify before Congress (despite Google’s best efforts, Pichai is due to address Congress today).

Yesterday, Google announced thatit had identified a second bug during regular testing, following a softwareupdate. The latest bug, which affects a Google+ API, affected approximately52.5 million people and lasted for six days. Much like the previous bugdisclosed, this could have allowed developers to access private profile data, includingage, occupation, username and email addresses.

However, Google has reassuredusers that there is no evidence that the bug was exploited or even noticed bythird parties and that the bug did not expose users’ passwords or financialdata.

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