WhatsApp private group links visible in Google search results

WhatsApp private group links visible in Google search results
Group chat is an incredibly useful messaging feature and private groups have been around for a long time already. However, it has been brought to our attention by Jordan Wildon, a multimedia journalist for German outlet Deutsche Welle, that some WhatsApp private group chats have their links available in Google search results.

Journalist Jordan Wildon stated on Twitter that WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as people thought they were and shared a screenshot, showing some links to groups appearing in Google search results. Apparently, when users create a link to send to someone to join their group, it gets indexed by Google and is accessible.

A WhatsApp’s spokesperson reminded people that links that should be private shouldn’t be disclosed on publicly accessible websites, apparently explaining that the issue was due to unreasonable public posting of some links. When a link for a private group is posted on publicly available websites, it can be used by anyone to join the group and in consequence, see all the messages in it.

However, reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong’s post on Twitter regarding the situation brings another perspective on it - she is stating this situation was a result of a misconfiguration which allowed around 470,000 Group Invite links to be indexed, and not because someone has not been careful enough when sharing private links. According to her, WhatsApp could change certain configurations in order to exclude the invite pages from appearing in search engines.

Nevertheless, for the time being WhatsApp maintains the position that this is intended behaviour, not a bug.


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