THE BRIEF

News of a significant privacy breach in Google’s social networking service has led the company to announce that it will be shutting down its Google+ platform.

DEEP DIVE

What is Google Plus?

Google Plus, also stylized as Google+, is Google’s social network. It was created in 2011 in Google’s attempt to build a social media platform that could compete with Facebook. However, Google+ never gained significant traction or popularity. According to Google, the service currently has “low usage and engagement” and “90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.”

Google+ Security Breach

On October 8, the Wall Street Journal Reported that since 2015, hundreds of thousands of Google+ users’ data was exposed in a security breach. Google discovered and remedied this breach in March. Executives didn’t disclose this information in order to avoid “immediate regulatory interest.” According to Google, they found no evidence that the data in question had been misused by any third party.

The combination of low user engagement and the news of the breach has led Google to announce plans to shut down the consumer version of Google+ over the next 10 months. A version of the service will remain available as a business product for co-workers to communicate.

Additionally, Google is adjusting the settings and for its other services in an attempt to ensure more privacy and security for users.

Although Google will be shutting down the service between now and August 2019, if you would like to delete your account immediately, follow the instructions below.

How To Delete Your Account

If you use Gmail, it is possible that you have a Google+ account, even without knowing it. Here’s how to check if you have an account and delete it:

  1. Sign into your Gmail account.
  2. On your Gmail or the Google homepage, click your profile picture, a circle in the top right corner of the page.
  3. If there’s a link under your name that says “Google+ Profile,” that means you have an account. If not, you don’t have an account.
  4. Click on “Google+ Profile.”
  5. From this page, click “Settings,” which will be on the bottom of a list on the left side.
  6. At the bottom of the Settings page, click “Delete your Google+ Profile.”
  7. Google will then ask you to confirm this action and fill out a brief survey about why you deleted your account.

For picture instructions, Business Insider has a complete guide.