Google+ is shutting down—here's what you need to know

This week, Google announced that it will be shutting down Google+ over the coming months.

Wait—what??

You read that right. Google will be shutting down its in-house social network for consumers. The company announced that two factors went into its decision to shutter the network: low usage and a massive security bug.

Let's start with the obvious: Google+ has been declining for a number of years. The social network launched to much fanfare in 2011, but quickly dropped in usage and engagement numbers. Google itself said that 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.

Ouch.

Furthermore, the network failed to receive widespread developer adoption.

While we've supported Google+ from the beginning, other social media management apps (and apps in general) never fully embraced the network.

About that "little" security breach...

Earlier this week, Google published a blog post discussing an API bug that put millions of users at risk.

The bug—in short—gave apps the ability to access data that users marked as private. This email includes information like names, email addresses, occupation, gender, and age. Many of these fields were optional, so not all Google+ users were impacted.

Whoops!

Thankfully, Google has said that messages and other important interactions were not leaked.

Google noted that it discovered and fixed the bug in March 2018, making us (and everyone else on the Internet) wonder why they didn't tell us about it earlier.

The search giant also noted that it only keeps API logs for two weeks, so it can't tell us how many people were impacted by the bug.

However, Google did note that the profiles of up to 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected after running a detailed analysis of user actions leading up to the API bug.

At this time, Google has noted that developers were not aware of the bug, so the number of people actually impacted is likely minimal.

Here's how the shutdown will happen

Google+ will shutdown over the next 10 months, with the final shutter date being sometime in August 2019. We'll also hope to see more information regarding how the Google+ API will shutdown soon.

Over the coming months, Google will provide consumers with information on how to download and migrate their data, too. So, your photos and other uploaded content will be available for export at some point.

Note: Google+ will not be shut down for corporate users. The enterprise, intra-company network will continue to function as usual for now and past the August shutdown.

How will the shutdown affect you and your SEO?

Here's where things get tricky: Google+ affects SEO on blog posts and other web content.

Currently, the number of +1's (Google's version of upvoting). When you +1 a piece of content, the article will be re-posted to your Google+ page, and will a +1 counter will advance on your webpage.

Additionally, +1's personalize search based on your network. If enough people +1 a post in your Google+ network, it will rank the post higher in your Google search results.

As of now, Google hasn't said how the Google+ shutdown will affect SEO, but we'll keep you updated when we hear more.

Bottom line

Many see Google+'s shutdown as a long-time coming, but it's unfortunate to see such a widespread bug play into its death.

In the comments, let us know what you think about the Google+ shutdown. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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