In other words, Google learned about the three-year-long vulnerability and chose not to say anything out of fear that it'd be bad PR.
Google also noted that the data that was exposed was limited to "optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age".
Even if you, like many, haven't used your Google+ account, it could still be at risk.
Google who has now gone public with the data exposure wrote in a blog post that they found no evidence of data misuse. As part of that, a bug in Google + was found that could have been a potential leak if it wasn't caught in time. However, the announcement came moments after The Wall Street Journal reported Google had opted not to disclose a bug affecting Google+ users at least in part to avoid additional regulatory scrutiny.
The discovery would have been around the same time as social network giant Facebook was coming under fire after it emerged that as many as 87 million user profiles were harvested and sent to Cambridge Analytica, a political firm employed by the campaign to elect Donald Trump to the presidency.
Google has been trying to gain a foothold in social networking for years, going all the way back to the tragically flawed Google Buzz in 2010. Previous reports have found that some third-party Gmail add-on developers were reading users' emails, supposedly to improve their algorithms.
The company also admitted the low engagement statistics of Google+.
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Only email clients, email backup services and productivity services will be able to access this data.
"We are shutting down Google+ for consumers", Smith added, admitting that the product was, at best, underwhelming.
CEO Sundar Pichai was reportedly informed of the decision to not tell users after it had already been made by an internal committee. "Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice", he says.
Google+ is finally shutting down on a particularly sour note.
But it's not doing so exclusively out of concern for users' privacy: Smith admitted the network is not a success, saying "The consumer version of Google+ now has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds".
The service will wind down over the next 10 months, with the goal of finishing the shutdown by the end of August 2019.
Google today also revealed some more steps that it's taking to help protect user data.