Private profile data of around 500,000 Google+ users may have been exposed between 2015 and March 2018. Despite Google’s knowledge of this issue early this year, information was never disclosed “in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage", according to people briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

According to the article, “a software glitch in the social network site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data during that time period until when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue. A memo reviewed by the Journal prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger ‘immediate regulatory interest’ and invite comparisons to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica.”

Google+ was launched back in 2011 with the intention of challenging Facebook. Google+ is now arguably seen as one of the company’s biggest failures, with this latest incident reinforcing this sentiment. 

Users have the right to know when their personal data is exposed, and the poor handling of this situation reflects how Google has handled Google+ since its inception 7 years ago. Now we will have to wait and see how these developments impact the company and the community going forward.