New Delhi: In yet another breach of privacy, invite links to personal WhatsApp group chats were indexed on a simple Google search on Friday, meaning anyone could join these private chat-groups. Also Read - WhatsApp Alert: Your WhatsApp Account May Be Hacked by Anyone | Check Details Here
These chat links listed on Google also included some pornographic content-sharing groups. Google, however, immediately took steps to ensure that the search was modified and the invite links were not disclosed to the world. Also Read - TikTok Most Downloaded Non-gaming App in March Globally, Followed by Facebook
According to a report in Motherhood, it was found that private groups using specific Google searches and even joined a group intended for NGOs accredited by the UN and had access to all the participants and their phone numbers. Also Read - Fact Check: Can Covid-19 Vaccination Appointment Be Booked Through WhatsApp? Here's The Truth
The breach was first reported by Journalist Jordan Wildon who tweeted saying “Your WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think they are”. He discovered that WhatsApp’s “Invite to Group Link” feature lets Google list groups on search, making them available across the internet.
This is because the links are being shared outside of WhatsApp’s secure private messaging service. As a result, using particular Google searches, people can discover links to the chats.
According to app reverse-engineer Jane Wong, Google has around 470,000 results for a simple search of “chat.whatsapp.com”, part of the URL that makes up invites to WhatsApp groups.
WhatsApp spokesperson Alison Bonny said, “Like all content that is shared in searchable public channels, invite links that are posted publicly on the internet can be found by other WhatsApp users.”
“The links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website,” Bonny told a leading magazine.
Subsequently, Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison, tweeted, “Search engines like Google & others list pages from the open web. That’s what’s happening here. It’s no different than any case where a site allows URLs to be publicly listed. We do offer tools allowing sites to block content being listed in our results.”
With IANS inputs