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Farewell Google+, we hardly knew ye

Google's answer to Facebook was an unmitigated failure.

After seven years of failing to compete with Facebook, Google's own social network, Google+, is shutting down.

The search engine giant made the announcement on Monday, but its failure to overhaul Facebook was only partly to blame – and certainly the least serious reason for its demise.

That's because Google has revealed that a bug in its software meant that as many as 500,000 accounts that had been set to private had actually been accessible to third parties.

This meant third parties were able to see Google+ profile information, including the users' names, email addresses, occupations, genders and age.

It didn't however give them access to things like posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers or any content within its G Suite service.

"We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused," Google said on Monday.

While the consumer-level Google+ is closing down, Google will keep powering the Google+ networks for businesses.

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The decision to shut the service down followed a review that confirmed "what we've known for a while," Google said.

"While our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps.

"The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds."

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