According to a report released by Motherboard a few days ago, it was revealed that invitations to WhatsApp group chats were being indexed by Google.
Few hours after the report, Google appears to have stopped showing results for that search, instead of returning the message “Your search site: chat.whatsapp.com – did not match any documents.
It was reported that anyone can search and join any private WhatsApp group of their choice via links made available by Google. Although, it appears Google has moved swiftly to rectify it.
The Motherboard team has also revealed that some unknown individuals have gained access to some private group chat and one being an NGOs group accredited by the UN and had access to all the participants and their phone numbers.
The Motherboard is not the only team that has shared this news, Jordan Wildon a Journalist also tweeted that he discovered that the invite to group link of WhatsApp feature lets Google index groups, making them available across the internet since the links are being shared outside of WhatsApp’s secure private messaging service.
Wildon tweet read thus “your WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think and links to your chats can easily be discovered using a particular Google search”
Alison Bonny a spokesperson for WhatsApp noted that “Like all content shared in searchable public channels, invite links that are posted publicly on the internet can be found by other WhatsApp users.”
Bonny also stated that “The links that users wish to share privately with people they know, and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website.”
Jane Wong an app reverse-engineer stated that “Google has around 470,000 results for a simple search of “site: chat.whatsapp.com”, part of the URL that makes up invites to WhatsApp groups.”
Also speaking on the issue is Google’s public search liaison Danny Sullivan, who tweeted that “Search engines like Google and 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.”
It was also reported that some of the indexed search results contain several child porn sharing groups.
However, WhatsApp has also stated that it will take swift action by promptly banning anybody found guilty of using its platform to promote child porn (This has been stated on their FAQ page).
Featured Image: ciobulletin
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