After severe backlash in response to Whatsapp’s new privacy policies, there is yet another report of data violation by Whatsapp. According to reports, mobile numbers of those who use WhatsApp Web can be found on Google search.
Whatsapp web is used by many users for logging in through desktop or PCs. The Whatsapp web version is used mostly by working professionals who tend to work on their PCs most of the time. Now, according to the latest reports, Whatsapp web apparently exposed the phone numbers on Google through indexing. There were reports of Whatsapp groups appearing on Google search. This turns out to be a huge problem as anyone could find the Whatsapp groups on Google. The group chat links of Whatsapp also appeared on Google search and anyone could join it by searching for the group.
However, this is not the first time when Whatsapp has faced such a problem. In 2019, Whatsapp group chats were leaked on Google which was fixed after a security researcher reported to Facebook.
“The leak is happening via WhatsApp on Web. If someone is using WhatsApp on a laptop or on an office PC, the mobile numbers are being indexed on Google Search. These are mobile numbers of individual users, not business numbers”, said Rajshekhar Rajaharia an independent cybersecurity researcher to IANS. Rajaharia had also shared screenshots of the same. “Despite WhatsApp advising users and telling Google to remove the earlier exposed group chat links, the mobile numbers via WhatsApp Web application are now being indexed on Google Search”, added Rajaharia.
However, fortunately, the Whatsapp chats links from Google have been removed.
“Since March 2020, WhatsApp has included the “no index” 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. 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…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. Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website”, said Whatsapp in a counter statement to Rajaharia.
The problem occurred due to Google indexing and the Whatsapp chat links have been removed from Google search.