Your Private WhatsApp Chat Could Be at a Risk of Being Discovered
WhatsApp is perhaps one of the most sought after apps that people are using on a daily basis. We recently reported that WhatsApp had crossed 2 billion active users, and while that is certainly an achievement, the news we have today is not something that will bode well with many users.
Private Group Chats at Risk of Being Discovered
The issue seems to be limited to group chats only. For those who do not know, private WhatsApp group chats are accessed only via the invite code that can be distributed by the moderators of the said chat. These invite codes are nothing more than URLs with specific text strings. Pretty harmless and usual, right?
Well, it seems that Google is indexing some of these invite URLs, which means that anyone can use Google and find these URLs and use them access the groups.
Now before this situation gets out of hand, the important thing to note here is that it is not Google's fault that it is happening. The problem lies with WhatsApp, or Facebook, if you may. Google is known for using crawlers that index the URLs all over the internet, and it becomes very easy for different websites as well as apps to place a line of code on pages that specifically lets Google know that the information is not there to be crawled.
Keeping the aforementioned statement in mind, it seems like WhatsApp is not implementing the same practice, and therefore, the links are being crawled and discovered by keened eye users.
If you are curious whether your private WhatsApp group is indexed or not, simply type "chat.whatsapp.com" in the browser and then add some information that is relevant to your group chat and it will be shown.
While it may seem like a harmless issue, we must acknowledge the fact that many organizations, even at government level use WhatsApp group chats because they are easy to gain access to and convenient, as well. If someone can access these chats by just using Google's indexing feature, it means that the person can also gain access to the phone numbers of people added in those groups.
We are still waiting for both Facebook or Google to this news.