There are bad bugs, and there are worse bugs. But until this week, there had never been a bug that killed a social network. Then the Wall Street Journal reported that a glitch had exposed private Google+ profile information to third-party developers between 2015 until earlier this year. A few hours later, the network — which once claimed 135 million users — was dead. For most of its seven years, Google’s effort to build a Facebook-style social network served mostly as a punchline. The company regularly touted suspiciously massive user numbers, but aside from a few pockets of enthusiasts, Google+ never managed to find a place in people’s lives the way Gmail, YouTube, or other Google services did. Google attempted to reinvent Plus several times, most recently as a kind of modern spin on message boards. And one part of Plus, which focused on helping you organize your photos, thrived once it spun out into a separate service. But mostly it was a wild goose chase — the most prominent example of Google’s many failed attempts to build a true social network. And it will be forever remembered as the social network that shut down over a security glitch — one that it didn’t tell us about until it was discovered by journalists. Why didn’t Google fess up at the time? Here’s what it told the Journal: In weighing whether to disclose the incident, the company considered “whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any… [Read full story]
The Verge is an ambitious multimedia effort founded in 2011 to examine how technology will change life in the future for a massive mainstream audience.
Our original editorial insight was that technology had migrated from the far fringes of the culture to the absolute center as mobile technology created a new generation of digital consumers. Now, we live in a dazzling world of screens that has ushered in revolutions in media, transportation, and science. The future is arriving faster than ever.