We do know the affected accounts had their full name, email addresses, birth date, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation, and relationship status exposed.
Along with this, Google will also force app developers to provide more detailed explanations of what it intends to do with your Google Account if it's requesting access to it. Also in recent weeks, Google has been strongly criticized about building a search engine that would censor information as part of a possible-entry into China. It said it had no evidence that any third-party developer was aware of the bug or had misused profile data.
Google told WSJ that it came to the conclusion not to disclose the issue based on several factors, including whether the company could accurately identify the impacted users, whether there was any evidence of misuse and whether there was any action the users could have taken. Even in that short amount of time, Google's audit found that almost half a million Google+ accounts could have been affected in just 14 days' worth of analysis.
But as the Wall Street Journal reports, the move comes after Google discovered a bug that left private user information open to developers in March, but declined to alert users for fear of regulatory scrutiny.
The discovery would have been around the same time as social network giant Facebook was coming under fire after it emerged that as many as 87 million user profiles were harvested and sent to Cambridge Analytica, a political firm employed by the campaign to elect Donald Trump to the presidency. Google confirmed that it had discovered the bug in March, but would not say when it became active.
Google+ was launched in June, 2011 as a way to compete with other social networks such as Facebook. Users will be able to download and migrate their data.
To increase the active user base Google interlinked Google+ with other services like Gmail and Youtube, but that didn't work out.
An email shared among senior Google executives and lawyers said that revealing the issue would lead to "immediate regulatory interest" and mean its chief executive Sundar Pichai being forced to give evidence in Washington. So, Google is shutting it down consumer access to G+. "Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we chose to sunset the consumer version of Google+", Google said in the blog announcement.
"Smith said that despite Google's engineering teams putting in a lot of effort, "[Google+] has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps.
Google will continue to operate Google+ as an enterprise product for companies.
Google today announced that it will shut down the consumer version of Google+ following the discovery of a bug that it opted to keep secret.