Your private WhatsApp group might not be as private as you'd like. DW journalist Jordan Wildon has
that Google is indexing at least some WhatsApp group invitations in its search, making it possible to slip into groups that owners might not want to be public. While many of these are fairly innocuous, some include sensitive data. Motherboard discovered one group apparently aimed at UN-accredited non-governmental organizations where it was possible to see the list of all 48 participants, including their phone numbers.
Your WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think they are.— Jordan Wildon (@JordanWildon) February 21, 2020
The "Invite to Group via Link" feature allows groups to be indexed by Google and they are generally available across the internet. With some wildcard search terms you can easily find some… interesting… groups. pic.twitter.com/hbDlyN6g3q
You won't want to count on these invitations leaving the web, either. A WhatsApp spokesperson asserted these links were shared in "searchable, public channels," and that people who want to keep links private shouldn't share them on publicly reachable sites. Google's public search liaison, Danny Sullivan,
this by saying it was "no different" than any other situation where sites allow links to be publicly listed. He added that Google offers tools to block content from being listed. A Google spokesperson didn't have more to add following an inquiry from Engadget.
Search engines like Google & others list pages from the open web. That’s what’s happening here. It’s no different than any case where a site allows URLs to be publicly listed. We do offer tools allowing sites to block content being listed in our results: https://t.co/D1YIt228E3— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) February 21, 2020
Concerns appear to have been
since at least November 2019, when a Facebook representative told one user that this was an "intentional product decision."
I reported to facebook security in early november 2019 but they said intended behavior.... pic.twitter.com/V7HzjZZzCI— HackrzVijay 💻 (@hackrzvijay) February 21, 2020
This should mean that it's possible to keep private chats truly closed off by asking members to avoid sharing invitations in public spaces. The problem, of course, is that it only takes one not-so-careful participant to make a link public, and users might not always understand when sharing a link makes it visible in search engines. It also undermines Facebook's assertion that its future is private -- it's hard to maintain privacy if a link shared in one place is visible to anyone with a knack for Google searches.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
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