Not that this would have much of an impact on digital marketing, but Google+ is finally shutting down. It never really took off among consumers, though businesses were maintaining accounts to reach out to other businesses. From January 8, 2019 it has no longer been possible to connect Pages or Profiles of Google+ to Buffer Publish, though the pages and profiles already connected will keep working till January 25, 2019.
Security Lapse Hastens End
The end was already coming, but what hastened the decision for Google+ was a security lapse. In October 2018 it was announced that in around 10 months from then the consumer version of Google would shut down. Google was faced with user sessions on its social network just lasting less than 5 seconds. But Google did maintain that its enterprise version would continue and that new features would be introduced for that, with Google’s intention being to make it a “corporate social network”. But there were further data leaks reported that hastened the desire to close it down. The latest deadline is by April 2019. API support would end by March 7, 2019.
The Data Breach Revealed in October
Back in October 2018 a major vulnerability made the headlines when private user data was revealed to have been exposed to developers for three years. While the lapse was discovered in March 2018, it was only publicized in October. That raised further concerns about how transparent Google’s services actually were. The bug was discovered as part of Google’s standard testing procedure and gave third-party developers access to the Gmail messages of users. Google did maintain that there wasn’t any evidence of app developers actually having accessed this data.
But what really raised alarm bells was Google covering this up and revealing it much later than when it was first discovered. By then Google said it had already started notifying users and its enterprise customers. It also made new changes to the privacy features of its other Google services. Developers were limited in the access they got to Gmail and Android devices’ user data. Even in Gmail, Google made changes to the User Data Policy for Gmail’s consumer version. Only apps that would directly improve email functionality were allowed to access Gmail user data. But from the perspective of Google+, the changes were too late.
In November Google revealed another similar bug, but it was only live for six days between the 7th and 13th of November. In any case, these security concerns gave Google just the excuse it needed to shut down the Google+ consumer version since it was already struggling to bring in users.
But now Google is completely shutting down Google+ by April 2019. It’s the end of the story.