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What You Need to Know About the Shut Down of Google+

Hand navigating to Google on mobile device.

Privacy protection is a hot topic in the digital world. Following the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal and the introduction of the GDPR, people and businesses alike are concerned about the protection of their data online. And let’s face it, they have every reason to be!

In the aftermath of a data leak that was caught in early 2018, Google has decided to shut down Google+. In this article, we’re going to dive a little deeper into why Google+ is shutting down, how it could affect your business, and how our experts at IMP Digital Marketing are handling the aftermath.

Is Google+ Shutting Down?

On October 8th, 2018, an article was posted to the Google Blog confirming that Google+ will be shutting down due to a data breach that was discovered in March 2018. In the article, Ben Smith, Google Vice President of Engineering, explains that the data breach was detected during a full analysis and review of access that third-party developers have to user information.

How Will It Affect My Business?

Google will slowly be taking the steps to shut down Google+ over a 10-month period, with a targeted end date of late August 2019. This offers enough time to properly collect and store any information on Google+, or have it transferred to another platform.

Since statistics showed an extremely low engagement rate for the platform, our experts at IMP Digital Marketing do not foresee the shut down of Google+ having an adverse effect on your business or digital success. If you are on an SEO package or receive blog posts on a regular basis, your blogs will not be published to Google+. Content will continue to be published to your website and utilized for other channels, including YouTube, as well.

Instead, we will be focusing our efforts on creating high-quality, SEO-friendly content and publishing it to more successful social media platforms, including Facebook. Publishing to social media only applies to clients who receive monthly social media marketing management services.

If you aren’t on a social package, why not get started today?

Why is Google+ Shutting Down?

In early 2018, Google started an effort known as Project Strobe. The goal of this initiative was to launch a complete review of the access that third-party developers have to each Google account and Android device data. This hard data would lead to a review of Google’s philosophy around the data access that apps have.

In this article, Google announced four main findings from Project Strobe and the course of action for each, including that there were “significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ product that meets consumers’ expectations.”

The course of action for this finding was to shut down Google+.

Although the engineering teams at Google have put enormous effort and dedication into building and maintaining a successful Google+ product over the years, it simply hasn’t achieved broad consumer or developer adoption. On top of that, engagement rates are low, and Google has noted a limited user interaction with apps. In fact, 90% of consumer Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds according to Google.

So, what happened?

During Project Strobe, a bug was discovered. This bug had been allowing third-party app developers to access not only the personal data of users who had granted full permission, but also their friends data. This data included information such as: name, email, address, occupation, gender, and age. The full list of information can be found on the Google developer website.

After this bug was discovered in March of 2018, it was quickly fixed. Due to strong privacy controls, Google cannot confirm which users were affected by this bug, as data is only stored for two weeks. They ran a detailed analysis following the discovery of the bug, which covered the two weeks prior to the issue being resolved. This analysis showed that the profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected, and that up to 438 applications may have accessed the information. Google’s Privacy & Data Protection Office reviewed the issue in full detail and found no evidence that any developer was aware of the bug or that any profile data was misused.

Although there was no evidence showing that any information was misused, this review did highlight the many challenges that maintaining a successful Google+ product has. Given the various challenges and low engagement of the tool, Google decided that the best and most-logical course of action was to shut down the consumer version of Google+.

Contact IMP Digital Marketing Today

For more information about the shut down of Google+, please feel free to get in touch with our experts at IMP Digital Marketing. We’re more than happy to walk you through the changes that will be made on our end. On the other hand, if you’re looking to make more of an impact online, reach new consumers, or simply have some questions for us, click here!

All information gathered for this article was sourced from the Google Blog.

Smith, B. (2018, October 8). Project Strobe: Protecting your data, improving our third-party APIs, and sunsetting consumer Google+. Retrieved from: https://www.blog.google/technology/safety-security/project-strobe/.

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