Google put the “final nail in the coffin” of the Google+ product by shutting down “all consumer functionality,” the Wall Street Journal reported citing an internal memo.
The project launched in 2011 as an alternative to other social networks ended up being a huge failure for the company. The breach happened after a software glitch in the site gave outside developers potential access to private profile data including names, email addresses, birth dates, genders, occupations and more.
The memo viewed by the Journal said that disclosing the incident publicly would possibly trigger “immediate regulatory interest” and do damage to the company’s reputation. Reporting the incident would result “in us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal,” it warned.
The Journal reported that the Google+ breach exposed Google’s “concerted efforts to avoid public scrutiny of how it handles user information” at a time when regulators and the public are trying to do more to hold tech companies to account.
The leaked memo says that while there is no evidence that outside developers misused any data, there is still no way to know for sure.
According to Al Saikali, a lawyer who spoke to the Journal, it was possible that Google could face class action lawsuits over its decision not to disclose the breach. “The story here that the plaintiffs will tell is that Google knew something here and hid it. That by itself is enough to make the lawyers salivate,” he said.