Google + is shutting down after a massive data breach, sending shares down

By Jillian D'Onfro

Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., attends a news conference in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. 
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., attends a news conference in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. 

Google is shutting down its beleaguered Google+ social network after it discovered a software bug that gave third-parties potential access to private user data, the company writes in a blog post.

The possibly exposed data included users' names, email addresses, birth dates, profile photos, and genders, though not any information related to personal communication or phone numbers. Google says that it found no evidence that any developer misused profile data, though it cannot confirm which users were impacted.

Google did not initially disclose the Google+ security breach when it first discovered it this spring because it feared regulation and reputational damage, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing documents and people briefed on the incident. The Journal reports that the data of hundreds of thousands of profiles were possibly affected.

In response, Google plans to shut down all consumer functionality of Google+ over the next ten months, although it will maintain the enterprise version used by its G Suite business customers. Since the social network first launched in 2011, it failed to gain popular appeal and was broken up into separate products in 2015. The blog post states that the consumer version currently has low usage and engagement and that 90 percent of user sessions last less than five seconds.

Google discovered the bug during a comprehensive review of third-party developer access to all Google account and Android device data. Google shares fell more than 2 percent to $1134.23 on the news.

Alphabet didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.