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Fresh Problems for Google, Facebook, Oath

December 17 2018

It's been a tough year for some of the Internet's biggest names, and it seems it's not over yet. Google+ consumer is to close earlier than billed after a new data leak; Facebook is under investigation for another privacy breach; while Yahoo/AOL successor Oath apparently has bigger problems.

Fresh Problems for Google, Facebook, OathIreland's data protection commissioner has announced a new investigation into Facebook after it admitted up to seven million people may have had their private photos held on the site exposed to some 1,500 apps. In a blog post, the social network said: 'Our internal team discovered a photo API bug that may have affected people who used Facebook login and granted permission to third-party apps to access their photos. We're sorry this happened'. The firm is already the subject of an investigation in Ireland into a leak in September, affecting up to '30 million' people. (Clearly not all of these are in Ireland - population 4.8m - but it's the emerald Isle's authorities who have the task of pursuing Facebook since it chooses to base its European operations there).

Google announced in October that it would be shutting down the consumer side of its social network Google+, following a breach which potentially exposed the private data of 'hundreds of thousands' of users between 2015 and March this year. The switch-off was set for August 2019 but has now been brought forward four months to April, following news of another leak. This time, the search giant says 52.5m users could have had their profile information seen by developers between November 7th and November 13th, even where accounts were set to private. API access to the network will be shut off even faster - within the next 90 days, says Google. The firm reports that there is 'no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused'.

Nothing as mild as a few million users having their data exposed for Oath, the company into which Verizon folded veteran Internet brands including AOL and Yahoo. The telecoms giant says in an SEC filing that it is eliminating over 10,400 jobs in phased buyouts, according to news and views web site Ars Technica - and Oath is right in the firing line. The filing states: 'Verizon's Media business, branded Oath, has experienced increased competitive and market pressures throughout 2018 that have resulted in lower-than-expected revenues and earnings. These pressures are expected to continue and have resulted in a loss of market positioning to our competitors in the digital advertising business. Oath has also achieved lower-than-expected benefits from the integration of the Yahoo Inc. and AOL Inc. businesses'.

All articles 2006-19 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.

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