WhatsApp group chats are visible on the Google search, and anyone can join it by just searching the group.
This loophole was discovered last year, and apparently, it was mitigated only to find out that the situation still prevails. With another issue risen, anyone can now access other's profile pictures and numbers through Google search.
If a person can access WhatsApp's private group chats, he or she can see participants' profile picture and even phone numbers along with the posts that the group members have shared.
WhatsApp replied, "Since March 2020, WhatsApp has included the 'noindex' tag on all deep link pages which, according to Google, will exclude them from indexing. Adding the 'noindex' tag is not a proper solution as links surface again on search results in a few months. Big tech companies like WhatsApp should look for a proper solution if they really care users' privacy."
According to media reports, the indexing of WhatsApp group chats has given birth to 1,500 group invite links on Google search. These group chats share different things from porn to community interest. People who aren't invited can easily join these groups.
When it was first discovered and reported to Facebook, it was solved by adding 'noindex' meta tags, though the new links have these tags. As a result, the issue which is leading to this situation maybe something different.
WhatsApp seems to have allowed anyone to chat with a user or look at their profiles, exposing their privacy. This issue was seen in June 2019 but the company did nothing to fix it, though many reports have been confirmed.
A WhatsApp spokesperson said, "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."
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Last Updated Jan 12, 2021, 10:23 AM IST