WhatsApp speaks up on profiles, group invite links showing on Google search res
Original story: In February last year, Google and WhatsApp gathered a whole lot of headlines as some public groups, along with chats and member information, started showing up on Google search results. Although the issue was solved later and the groups were hidden, some WhatsApp groups and profiles have started showing up again, according to cybersecurity researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia (via Gadgets 360).
This time users’ phone numbers and profile pictures are also showing up, making the situation worse than before. All people need is the URL of the group and they can join by simply searching it on Google.
It has been mentioned that users with the links can join the groups and can see participants along with their phone numbers and the posts that they have shared. It is not for sure when exactly WhatsApp has started indexing group chat invites on Google. However, the report adds that around 1,500 group invite links were already there on search results.
While some of the groups indexed by Google leads the users to porn content, others are specific to some user interests.
Rajaharia mentioned that the Facebook-owned instant messenger was not using robots.txt file for chat.whatsapp.com subdomain. Companies use robots.txt to prevent search crawlers from indexing content.
As for user profiles, Google has started showing up private accounts of users along with their profile images and names, adds the report. It is possible to see user profiles by searching for country codes on WhatsApp’s domain. Some 5,000 profiles are said to have been made public for now. According to Rajaharia, WhatsApp is not using the robots.txt file here as well.
Both WhatsApp and Google have not made any public statements yet.