Google exposed the personal data of about 500,000 Google+ users to potential misuse by outside developers for years through a bug, then concealed the error to avoid consequences, according to an investigation published by The Wall Street Journal Monday.
Now, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, and internal memo at Google warned that going public about the data leak would attract "immediate regulatory interest".
"None of these thresholds were met here.", she said. The move comes as the company revealed that a previously undisclosed security flaw exposed hundreds of thousands of Google+ users' profile data.
"It does not include any other data you may have posted or connected to Google+ or any other service, like Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers or G Suite content", said Ben Smith, Google Fellow and vice president of engineering.
Google+ will be closing down in August next year, however the company said it was looking at continuing an enterprise version of the product with greater user controls.
Google has finally given up on its aspirations to take on Facebook by shutting down its only social media platform Google Plus. No developer exploited the vulnerability or misused data, the company's review found.
Some of that qualifies as legally protected personally identifiable information, and its exposure could trigger scrutiny from federal and state regulators, including some who have probed Google before on similar issues.
The issue apparently came about when a user granted permission to an app, allowing it to access their public data. However, what wasn't known, was that on the given accounts, friends of that profile also had their data made available to developers, even if they made such data private. In fact, 90%of Google+ user sessions only last less than five seconds.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Google will be shutting down Google+ for consumers as part of a data privacy measure announced on Monday.
David C. Vladeck, former director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection and now a Georgetown Law professor, said the new Google+ incident is "obviously a problem for Google".
Google says that like other tech companies, it has encouraged third-party developers to "build on top of our various services".