The ailing Google+ will officially shut its doors in August 2019, following a 10-month wind-down that will give members plenty of time to migrate their data. The announcement came soon after it was revealed a software glitch potentially disclosed the private details of nearly half a million Google+ users.

Google unveiled its social network back in 2011, ostensibly in an attempt to beat Facebook at its own game. The platform was initially quite successful, with an invite-only strategy that undoubtedly increased interest and demand. However, despite that opening burst of interest, doubts over the platform's usability were quickly raised. By 2012 Google revealed the platform had nearly 100 million users, but many suggested this was a disingenuous number, with a Google+ account frequently being created as a byproduct of using other Google services.

For years any metric measuring user engagement on the platform revealed strikingly how little time people actually spent on the site. Soon Google+ started to feel like a social media punchline, with nobody quite sure who was actually still using it.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Google discovered a bug earlier this year that allowed app developers to view Google+ profile information not marked as publicly accessible. Before the bug was patched Google believes around 500,000 Google+ accounts were vulnerable, but in a recent blog post the company claims there is no evidence any developer was aware of the bug or abused the flaw and misused private profile data. This statement is contrary to information in the Wall Street Journal report suggesting an internal memo recognized there was no way the company could be sure any private data was compromised.

Google notes the discovery of the bug occurred back in March, so despite the recent exposure of this potential data leak, it is claimed that the shuttering of Google+ was not a quick, spur-of-the-moment decision. Instead, it is suggested that a larger platform and security review, called Project Strobe, implemented at the beginning of 2018, is responsible for the shutdown.

"This review crystallized what we've known for a while: that while our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps," Google's Vice President of Engineering Ben Smith writes in reference to the first wave of results from Project Strobe. "The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds."

That last statement is undeniably remarkable – 90 percent of sessions were less than five seconds long! Essentially, the majority of Google+ sessions were something akin to accidental clicks, where a user stumbles into the platform unknowingly and almost immediately shuts the tab down. So, despite the security issues with the platform it is unsurprising to see it close. And for those serious Google+ users out there, you have 10 months to find a new platform to do whatever it was you did on Google+.

Source: Google Blog