YOUR GOOGLE+ ACCOUNT IS GOING AWAY ON 2 APRIL 2019
Whenever I open Google+, I have been seeing this message for some days now. Where is it going? I was curious. It came as a revelation. After our beloved Orkut, now it’s time for Google+ to say GOODBYE. As of 2 April 2019, all Google+ accounts will cease to exist.
I like Google+, unlike many. It’s a fact that Google+ has been limping along for the last several years as spam bots ran rampant and Google showed little interest in making improvements to the social network. But one can thank Facebook for the demise of Google+, at least indirectly. Google started a review of Google+ operations following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that consumed Facebook last spring. The decision came as a part of Project Strobe, which is Google’s internal investigation into third-party developer account access to Google and Android products.
During that review, Google found a vulnerability that could have allowed scammers to scrape account information from the platform. This one exposed private user data fields to third-party apps. It enclosed static knowledge fields such as name, email, occupation, gender and age. It did not include information from Google+ posts. The bug was patched by Google in March 2018, but users were not informed at that point. Google says no one outside the company knew about the bug. However, it also decided to accelerate plans to close the site.
Google didn’t have specific dates in mind in December, but now it does. It’s because they spotted another major bug in late 2018. While the vulnerability was never exploited to Google’s knowledge, it drove home the sorry state of Google+’s code. The shutdown starts immediately with the end of new Google+ profiles. That should take effect in the coming days for all users.
Current users will also be unable to make new communities, pages, and events. Existing profiles will continue to work at a basic level for a few more months. After April 2, the consumer Google+ pages will go away.
Google+ is the fourth generation social networking tool from Google. The first was Orkut that was launched in 2004, the same year that Facebook Inc came into existence. Orkut was widely used in Brazil and India but hasn’t caught on more broadly. Orkut was shut down because it failed to put Google ahead in what has become one of the Web’s most popular businesses. It was operated entirely by subsidiary Google Brazil and retired after 10 years of existence, in September 2014.
Google Friend Connect arrived in 2008. After 4 years of existential struggle, it retired by March 2012. Google Buzz was launched in 2010. It had a speedy retirement in 2011.
Google+ was launched in June 2011. Its features included the ability to post photos and status updates to the stream or interest-based communities, group different types of relationships into Circles, a multi-person instant messaging, text and video chat named Hangouts, events, location tagging, and the ability to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums. But in comparison with Facebook and Twitter, Google+ was never a success. Google themselves noted that the engagement with Google+ was so low that most visits were probably misclicks.
However, Google+ will be there as a product for Enterprise users. The company has decided that Google+ is better suited as an internal social network for companies, rather than a consumer product. Google is expected to announce new Enterprise-focused products for Google+ in the near future.