It’s time to post one out for one of my homies. Some of you may know them; a lot of you may not; most of you have probably just forgotten. I’m talking, of course, about my dearest friend Google+. They died.
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported the social platform had a bug that exposed over 496,951 users’ full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status. This has been going on since 2015. Google tried to cover it up because, according to an internal memo, “it would lead to us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal.”
I have a couple of immediate takeaways from this news. For one thing, the cover-up shows a negligence and disregard for consumer security. For another, it serves as a reminder that Google+ (my dear friend, mind you) never found its footing as a viable social media platform. What was already a ghost town of a network anyways will be closed down within the next 10 months.
The irony here is that Google probably could have avoided this had they embraced transparency and gotten out ahead of the problem. The amount of compromised user data is considerably low when compared to other data breaches that have happened. A strong PR team could have handled this effectively and would have served as a refreshing alternative to other shady tech companies who have sat on even larger leaks than this one.
Google+ tried to boost engagement back in 2015 when they forced YouTube accounts to convert to the platform but it was not enough. Even by the company’s own admission, their user rates have been embarrassingly low. This snafu was the last nail in the coffin though. Google+ may have become an industry punch line, but soon it won’t even be that.
So take a little time these next few months to pay your last respects to Google+, the unwanted stepchild of the social media error. Do whatever there is to do on the platform. Learn what lessons you can from this corporate blunder. And if you want to learn more about a company that does work to keep data safe and secure, head over to http://xmode.io/.
By: Kevin Johnson