Google+ Services End Due to Lingering Data Privacy and Security Risks
With a seemingly never-ending stream of high-profile data breaches, network penetrations and other malicious online activity, it comes as no surprise that privacy and security remain chief concerns for today’s netizens. In an effort to better support users, Google recently conducted an internal security audit focused on the company’s data sharing policies and practices. This review unearthed some eye-opening findings which resulted in several key policy changes including the termination of Google+ services. Overall, this audit may lead to enhanced user security and allow greater control over data sharing online.
Google’s Inner Look at Data Access Policies Yields Significant Changes
In an ongoing campaign to improve users’ experiences, Google recently took an internal look at fundamental features of the company’s data security policies, processes and procedures. This study, known as Project Strobe, shed light on several alarming trends concerning how developers access and utilize users’ data as well as netizens' usage of Google products. Google grouped these findings, and subsequent corrective actions, into the following four areas:
1. Google+ failed to meet user expectations.
When Google took a hard look at the usage data for Google+, they discovered that an overwhelming majority (90 percent) of all sessions with this social media service lasted a mere five seconds or less. This low usage may be due, in part, to the success of other social media giants as well as lingering user privacy concerns and negative feedback over the complexities involved in developing and maintaining quality applications for Google’s platforms. In response to this information, the company terminated Google+ services for consumers.
2. Users demand detailed control over sharing data with applications.
Although users currently receive a prompt whenever an application requests access to account data, based on consumer feedback, it is not enough. Moving forward, users will receive enhanced details, listed on multiple screens, covering specifically what information an application will access.
3. Security policies restricting application access to users' Gmail data are insufficient.
Google recognized that current practices allowed users to unwittingly grant developers access to critical email data without fully understanding how developers use the data. Moving forward, only applications which make valuable use of consumer email data may request user permission. These requests may come from email backup service providers, enhanced productivity services, email clients and more.
4. A wide range of applications retain the ability to request access to users’ call logs and SMS data.
Similar to the usage restrictions for Gmail, Google also seeks to limit applications’ ability to access SMS, phone data and contact information. This policy update helps ensure that only applications with a bona fide need for this information are able to retrieve it.
Data Privacy Remains a Top Concern Among Users
Data security and online privacy, rightfully so, occupy a top position on nearly every netizen's demand list. From your email and SMS messages to friends, family and colleagues, to your financial information and secure payment methods, sensitive medical information and much more, a data leak can be devastating. Google’s recent policy updates seek to address these concerns and limit the scope of applications which may access your personal data.
Despite Security Concerns, Social Media Marketing Remains a Key Traffic Generator
Despite the end of Google+ and a tightening of data sharing policies across the board, industry giants such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more remain highly effective social media marketing forums. However, it is essential to stay on the cutting edge of the latest developments in social media services to maximize your ability to use these platforms to skillfully boost SEO, enhance conversions and build your brand. Small to medium-size businesses should also take precautions when requesting or interacting with users’ personal and account data by incorporating a comprehensive website development strategy which includes internal data security policies.