After hiding a security vulnerability that exposed the private information of thousands of customers on its social media network for seven months, Google announced Monday in a blog post that it is going to shut down the social network in 10 months.
The decision comes after a security bug in Google Plus exposed up to 500,000 users' personal data to third parties, including access to data for users' friends. However, Google said users' private information was not ever breached when the platform was vulnerable.
Google's most current data vulnerability is not the first time that giant tech companies have exposed their users' personal data. In early 2018, Cambridge Analytica, a company working for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, harvested millions of Facebook's user profiles without the company's knowledge or permission.
Google's reputation could be hurt because it failed to disclose that the security bug went undiscovered since 2015, according to experts who monitor tech companies like Google and Facebook. Google did not tell its users about the security issue when it was finally found in March. The giant tech company didn't report it until Monday.
Matthew Le Veque, associate professor of professional practice and public relations at USC, said keeping information private while also selling it as part of their advertising model is one dilemma that tech companies face.
"The conundrum facing businesses like these is how to be transparent and actually protect privacy while still obtaining personal data needed for their advertising business model," he said.
Scandals with Google and Facebook point out the problem of security in social media, said Evan Lubin, a USC senior in business administration student. Lubin said several of his friends have been hacked in the past due to data breaches.
"Today there's so much information going around," he said. "I wouldn't say that's at the top of my concern, just because it hasn't really affected me, but that's something I hear a lot about."
Vanessa Nguyen, a USC student, said the company should have disclosed the data vulnerability so that users can take steps to protect themselves.
"I use Google products all the time," she said. "I want to know [the data vulnerability], so I will know what I should do with my account and keep things safe."
USC Information Technology Services said it could not respond for comment by the end of this week.