Don't use this WhatsApp chat option or your phone number will list in Google's search results
While the Cambridge Analytica scandal cost Facebook a bunch of subscribers, its offshoots like WhatsApp or Instagram were largely spared. The sheer magnitude of the user private data misuse, however, forced WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum to leave Facebook that year.
Facebook purchased WhatsApp for the insane at the time $21 billion, hoping to capitalize on platform integration but still hasn't done much on that front, plus it has been on and off in hot water over privacy issues ever since.
WhatsApp itself has been in a privacy conundrum or two, and now the security researcher Athul Jayaram has found a big that will index your WhatsApp-associated phone number with Google's search engine.
WhatsApp's Click to Chat feature lets Google search index your phone number
According to Threatpost, where Mr Jayaram shared his observations, when someone uses the Click to Chat option on their website to start a messaging session, the associated phone number is revealed in plain text, as Google would index the code and display the number in its search results.
Probed to comment on the matter, WhatsApp basically said that this is not a big deal, as the users have opted to exchange their business phone numbers for convenience:
A more elegant option that site owners can do to prevent Click to Chat users from acquiring their phone numbers, according to Mr Jayaram, is to first, encrypt their phone numbers, and then add the infamous robots.txt string to basically tell Google that this info can't be indexed.