[Update 3: It’s Dead] Google+ is shutting down for consumers after potential major data breach
Google+ was introduced in 2011 as the tech giant’s response to the rising social network phenomenon and as a rival to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Unfortunately, though, it failed to gain traction despite Google’s unmeasurable efforts and backing to bring it up and boost its adoption. Today, after over 7 years of existence, Google is shutting down Google+ for good–although its low user base surprisingly wasn’t the main factor behind this decision.
Today, Google posted information about Project Strobe on their blog. Project Strobe isn’t a piece of hardware or a service/product, but simply an effort to review and further strengthen privacy and security across all of their products, including their third-party APIs, services, Android, and more. One of the findings that stemmed from Project Strobe was that the consumer version of Google+ was no longer worth maintaining.
The detonating factor behind its demise? A bug in their Google+ People APIs, which potentially exposed the data of over 500.000 users and was promptly patched in March 2018. This, combined with the community’s extremely low user base—90% of Google+ sessions are under 5 seconds–were enough for Google to be done with it for good.
This wind-down isn’t becoming effective immediately. Instead, in order to give people a full opportunity for transitioning, the social network will be shut down over the course of 10 months. The process is slated for completion by August 2019. Google does not have a replacement for Google+ in mind, at least for now. While the consumer version will be closed down, the social network itself will be tilted towards enterprises rather than just consumers, just like they’re doing with Hangouts.
I was never an active user of Google+, but it will be interesting to see where Google will be heading with this. The company will be providing further information on the network’s future as well as steps to be taken by Google+ users in the next few months. As of now, though, we’d recommend checking out the full Project Strobe blog post to see more information about this decision.
Update 1: The Shutdown Has Been Accelerated
After another data leak, Google is shutting down the service four months early in April. The new API bug (which was fixed within a week) impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had personal profile information exposed to developers.
Update 2: The End is Near
In a support page, Google has outlined the timeline for shutting down Google+. Creating new pages and profiles will no longer be possible as early as February 4th. Community owners can begin downloading data in March. Sign-in buttons will be replaced with Google sign-in buttons in the coming weeks. Comments on other websites, such as Blogger, will be removed by March 7th. On April 2nd, accounts and pages will be shut down and content deleted. G Suite users will be unaffected.
Update 3: Google+ is dead
Google+ is no longer available for consumers or brand accounts. The company is in the process of deleting content from consumer accounts and pages, but it’ll take them months to do so. In the meantime, you may still be able to archive your remaining content before it’s deleted. Google+ for G Suite customers will still be supported. More details on the shutdown can be found here. RIP.