Google is in the gutter again with users and privacy advocates, in the same week the tech giant's C.E.O is defending the company to skeptical lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
If you've never heard of Google Plus, you're not alone. The failed social media network had been scheduled to close down in August after failing to make a dent in Facebook's dominance. But now it's going to be shuttered even earlier than planned, due to a security bug leading to a massive leak of some 52 million users' private data. The information breach allowed outside developers to data mine private information about users, even if the account was set to private, including name, email and age, which is more than enough for an experienced thief to use for identity theft. The good news, according to Google: no financial information was released, and so far, the company hasn't seen any evidence that would indicate the information was used illegally. Of course they'll be keeping an eye on it as they wind down Google Plus operation.
This is actually Google Plus's second major data breach. Back in October, the company said some 500,000 users' data was compromised, which led to the announcement at that time that Google Plus would be going offline in August. However, because of this new breach, the termination date is now being moved up to April.
The revelation came on Monday, just a day before C.E.O. Sundar Pichai headed to Capitol Hill to face lawmakers for the first time. Most of the hearing focused on allegations of discrimination against conservatives online, but Pichai also spent a significant amount of time defending the company's record on privacy and data protection, telling members of the House Judiciary Committee that "protecting the privacy and security of our users has long been an essential part of our mission. We have invested an enormous amount of work over the years to bring choice, transparency and control to our users." It remains to be seen if Pichai's reassurances are enough to win over a skeptical public, wary of constant data breaches.