In a statement made Monday by Ben Smith, Google’s Vice President of Engineering, the company has conceded that Google+, the Jan Brady of social networks, has become more of a liability than an asset. In response, the company has made the decision to shut down the consumer version of Google+ next August.
Back in January the company launched Project Strobe, a review of data access, privacy, and third-party developer permissions. While Google is planning to roll out more in-depth user control over accounts, Gmail inboxes, and Android apps, their first finding is the most damning. Reviewing APIs associated with Google+, embarrassingly low engagement was discovered: “90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.” The Project Strobe audit also revealed a bug in one of the APIs, compromising the data of nearly 500,000 users and counting up to 438 applications that used the API. Despite the presence of this exploit, Google claims to have found “no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API… [or] that any Profile data was misused.”
Despite low consumer engagement statistics, Google reports that enterprise customers find greater value in the service as a corporate social network of sorts. The company hints at re-branding Google+ as an enterprise platform, with new business-centric features launched in the future.
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