WhatsApp Lands In Data Controversy Yet Again; Group Chat Links Go Public

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If you used Google to search for the WhatsApp domain, you might have come across WhatsApp group invite links and user profiles. Adding to the endless list of controversies, WhatsApp's latest vulnerability made group chats and user profiles easily accessible on Google. A similar incident occurred last year, where several private groups were available via a Google search.

 

WhatsApp Lands In Data Controversy Yet Again

WhatsApp Group Chat Controversy

The issue came to light yesterday (January 10) where WhatsApp group invite links and user profiles were appearing on Google search. Apparently, the issue was due to WhatsApp's indexing of group chat invites, where several private chats were available on Google. The issue is quite dangerous as anyone who found the private link to these WhatsApp groups could simply join in.

As cybersecurity researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia points out, it doesn't end there. Once anyone gets access to the WhatsApp group, they check out the phone numbers of the participants. "WhatsApp also allows users to generate rich preview links of group chat invites that eventually may allow search engine crawlers to identify the links and then index them for future searches," Rajaharia said.

Additionally, user profiles were also appearing on the Google search. Anyone could access the user profile via a simple Google search of the country code and the WhatsApp domain. With this, the WhatsApp URL of the profile would appear, along with their phone numbers and profile pictures.

WhatsApp Claims To Have Fixed Issue

Google indexed over 5,000 profile links, a report from Gadgets 360 notes. WhatsApp claims to have fixed the issue once again. Looking back, WhatsApp stated that since March 2020, "WhatsApp has included the 'noindex' tag on all deep link pages which, according to Google, will exclude them from indexing."

Despite fixing the issue, the new controversy will further make trouble for WhatsApp. The updated terms of privacy have seen in the number of users shifting to other apps like Telegram and Signal. With so much user data and personal chats being exposed, WhatsApp will have to bring in several changes to win users back to its platform.

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