Google did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.
Google said it discovered the bug as part of an internal audit called Project Strobe, which was initiated earlier this year.
It's important to know that removing your Google+ account doesn't delete your general Google or Gmail account, or any of the photos you've got saved on Google Photos. For some of those options you'll be able to select how the data is stored, so once you do that, you can select where and how to store your data.
'This review crystallized what we've known for a while: that 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, ' Smith said.
Our goal is to support a wide range of useful apps, while ensuring that everyone is confident that their data is secure.
The long and short of the issue is that there was a security hole that allowed third-party developers to access Google+ users' account data, including name, email address, occupation, gender, and age-even if the account was set as private.
'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, ' Smith said.
Impact: We're still months away from Google+'s ultimate demise, and even though Google nearly certainly will not change its decision, some users are still hoping they can change that via Change.org petition.
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The WSJ report said that a memo, prepared by Google's legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives, warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger "immediate regulatory interest" and invite comparisons to Facebook's leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica. Google will also work with developers to give them time to adjust the required permissions for apps and services that will be affected by the changes.
The report alleges that the bug became active in 2015, only being discovered by Google and shut down in March of this year.
Google said it hasn't yet found any evidence that the data obtained as a result of the bug was misused.
Several policies Google introduced on Monday are created to curb the data accessible to developers offering mobile apps on the Google Play store or add-on apps for sending and organising Gmail messages. These include more granular Google Account permissions that'll appear in their own individual dialog boxes and updating the User Data Policy for the consumer Gmail API to limit the apps that can seek permission to your consumer Gmail data.
CEO Sundar Pichai was reportedly informed of the decision to not tell users after it had already been made by an internal committee. The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: "90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".
Low usage combined with the security challenges mean Google will wind down Google+ over the next 10 months, although it will continue to provide the service to businesses.