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Verdicts & Settlements

Many People Who Used Google Plus–or, More Likely, Signed Up and Never Did–Eligible for Payout

— August 5, 2020

Don’t get too excited: awards range from minuscule to meager.

United States residents who used Google Plus have the opportunity to receive a small payout.

Google, writes USA Today, recently settled a privacy lawsuit related to its now-defunct social media website. As part of the settlement, Google has created a $7.5 million fund, available to most U.S. consumers who had Plus profiles.

However, individual awards range only from minuscule to meager: the maximum payout is only $12.

Still, interested consumers can visit the litigation website—hyperlinked here—to fill out a short claims form. Payments will be disbursed by PayPal or digital check.

USA Today notes that Google operated its Plus website from June 2011 to April 2019. Google Plus never really took off: according to Stone Temple Consulting, the network had only 111 million active profiles in 2015. Of those 111 million profiles, fewer than 6.7 million ever made more than 50 posts.

In comparison, Facebook and Instagram both have well over a billion active users, hundreds of millions of whom log into either platform on any given day.

Despite Google Plus’s abject lack of popularity—the site was frequently derided as an utter failure—it shut down following the discovery of massive security vulnerabilities early last year. Those vulnerabilities enabled many third-party services to access information from about 500,000 accounts, including an individual’s full name, e-mail address, occupation, age, and gender.

Google Search Screen
Google Search Screen; image courtesy of Simon via pixabay,

Interestingly, Google claims that the vulnerability was never abused—and that to the best of the company’s knowledge, nobody ever gained unauthorized access to Plus accounts.

While the bug was patched in March 2019, Google announced Plus’s closure less than a month later. In a blog post detailing its decision, Google effectively admitted that its attempt at creating a social media platform had fallen flat.

In a 2019 post, Google’s vice president of engineering, Ben Smith, wrote that “the consumer version of Google+ has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.”

Smith also explained how Google had become aware of security flaws in the network: while working on Project Strobe, a “root-and-branch review of third-party developer access to Google accounts and Android device data,” Strobe analysts found “areas where developers may have been granted overly broad access and other areas in which policies should be tightened.”

Google briefly announced its intent to offer more security-focused features to Google Plus users, before admitting the site’s lack of popularity and opting instead to shutter it.

USA Today notes that users whose accounts may have been impacted by the breach are still eligible to collect money, regardless of the fact that no third-party ever gained access to their personal information.

However, anyone who accepts funds from Google’s settlement account will be ineligible to independently sue Google over the same matter.


Did you use Google+? You may be owed some money from class-action privacy settlement

Google+ to shut down after private user data exposed

Google might owe you $12

Google Plus users can now receive a settlement from a class-action lawsuit

Google sets April 2 closing date for Google+, download your photos and content before then

Google shutting down Google+ in the aftermath of a privacy glitch

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