New Delhi: WhatsApp is best known for its end-to-end user encryption and has emerged as one of the most popular messaging app in India. But lately, what has concerned everyone is the availability of private group chat links being available on Google Search. Alarmed by such user behaviour where they share group chat links on publicly accessible websites, WhatsApp has asked Google not to index such chats and advised users stop doing this to protect their privacy.
Recently, the search engine giant, Google, had indexed invite links to private WhatsApp group chats, so that can join various private chat groups with a simple search. However, as soon as this technical glitch was discovered, the indexed WhatsApp group chat links were removed from Google at top priority.
Having fixed this problem, the cybersecurity researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia, on Sunday, shared some screenshots with media showing indexing of WhatsApp group chat invites on Google.
“Since March 2020, WhatsApp has included the ‘noindex’ tag on all deep link pages which, according to Google, will exclude them from indexing. We have given our feedback to Google to not index these chats,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson.
“Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website,” the messaging giant company spokesperson further added.
To note, the issue was first cropped up in February 2021 when app reverse-engineer, Jane Wong, stumbled upon a search where Google was showing around 470,000 results for a simple search of ‘chat.whatsapp.com’, part of the URL that makes up invites to WhatsApp groups.
Meanwhile, another incident where WhatsApp users’ privacy was found to be compromised was discovered by Journalist Jordan Wildon where he learned that WhatsApp’s Invite to Group Link feature lets Google index groups, making them available across the internet since the links are being shared outside the secure platform of WhatsApp.
Talking about the new change in WhatsApp the company spokesperson further said that as a reminder, “whenever someone joins a group, everyone in that group receives a notice and the admin can revoke or change the group invite link at any time.”
It is to be mentioned that Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison, had also earlier tweeted about this: “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.”