It’s not the news that Google is shutting down Google Plus due to two major data leaks happened in 2018. Being more specific, all Google+ web integrations should have stopped working on March 7, 2019, and the service will sunset for consumers completely in about a month after that.
The changes do not apply to Google+ as an enterprise product so companies that subscribe to G Suit will be able to continue using it. However, if your website has any Google+ elements, there are some actions you have to take to ensure its flawless operation. In this article, we’ll explain what exactly is happening with Google Plus and provide you with some recommendations on how to help your site successfully survive the changes.
- What is wrong with Google Plus
- Why should you care?
- How to make your website ready for the Google+ shutdown
What is wrong with Google Plus
Google+ is a social network by Google that has millions of users. But the paradox is that it’s not popular at all despite the huge time and financial investments put in this product. Google itself admits that only about 10 percent of Google+ sessions lasted longer than 5 seconds and this is indeed a very low indicator. However, no one really paid any attention to this disappointing stats (probably, except Google, but it seems they just didn’t care about it) until the news about data leaks spread across the web.
The first bug that became the reason of Google+ shutdown was discovered in March 2018, but it was kept secret by Google till October. About 500,000 profiles were affected at that time – specifically, external developers were able to access the data of such profiles starting 2015. Google representatives explained that they didn’t know if any private data was actually misused and that’s why they decided not to disclose the accident to the public.
Anyway, after the information about the data leak was revealed, Google announced that they plan to wind up Google Plus for consumers in August 2019. However, the things got worse in November 2018 when the second data leak happened. This time the bug impacted more than 50M users and Google decided to shut down Google+ five months earlier than it was initially planned.
The process, of course, will not take one day. The Google Plus shutdown is to be progressive. It’s actually already in progress as it started in January 2019.
Why should you care?
As mentioned, the enterprise version of Google+ will continue its existence. However, if your website has any dependencies on Google+ APIs, they should be removed. The most used Google+ APIs include: Google+ REST API, Google+ Web API, Google+ Android SDK, Google+ Domains API, and Google+ Pages API.
On top of this, Google+ web integrations (i.e. Plugins and Interactive Posts) and mobile app integrations (i.e. +1 buttons, sharing to Google+, and app activities) will cease to function as well. This means that you are strongly recommended to remove the relevant code from your software products. Otherwise, the functionality and/or layouts of the app/site may be affected. And this can have adverse effects on user experience, traffic, and other indicators.
As a side note, a similar situation has already happened once with Google Maps. In June 2018, Google started enforcing the usage of API keys with respect to the websites with integrated Google Maps. As a result, website administrators have to fix things manually to make Google Maps load correctly again. Here’s a screenshot of the Lego website which shows how this glitch looks like.
So the updates of third-party solutions embedded into web and mobile apps that affect the functionality of the latter ones are a pretty common problem. To avoid it, try to opt for custom solutions whenever possible.
How to make your website ready for the Google+ shutdown
Of course, everything depends on the specific Google+ APIs and integrations your software product relies on. However, there are common steps most website owners have to take due to Google Plus closing:
- Remove Google+ Sign In if your website or app uses such. The easiest and the smoothest way to do this is to migrate to Google Sign In authentication system.
- Remove any G+ share buttons from your website and blog (if any).
- If you have a community on Google Plus, move it to another popular social network. For instance, you may start a group on Facebook or LinkedIn. They both have huge audiences of active users. Important note: don’t forget to tell your community members about the transit to make the process as comfortable as possible for them.
- Update the APIs methods used in your web or mobile app. If there are any legacy Google Plus APIs, any dependencies on them should be removed.
- In case you use Google+ as an individual user, for example, to keep some database there, download your data as soon as possible not to lose it after the shutdown. Find the detailed instructions on how to do this here.
- You may also want to delete your Google+ account. But it’s an optional step.
Although the above actions will be sufficient for most cases, we strongly recommend you to contact professional developers to make sure you didn’t miss anything important. Otherwise, there is a risk that some glitches will occur due to Google+ sunsetting. And if it happens, you will spend even more time and money to fix everything.
Lastly, Google+ shutdown may be a disappointing event for some companies. However, data breaches are the serious issues and, even if you like this service a lot, you just cannot compromise on the privacy of your website visitors or app users. So do not be too upset because of these changes. We believe they will allow many businesses to open new opportunities.
If your website has any third-party elements embedded, you should be always ready for the changes like Google Plus shutting down. This is because the developers of your product have no control over the decisions made by other companies. And since crashes often happen unexpectedly, no one can foresee them and guarantee that there will be no negative effects on your site. The only thing you can actually do is to keep your finger on the pulse and follow the recommendations from professional programmers. To help you with this task, we’ll keep you informed about any major updates happening in the web and mobile development world.