Google Search is indexing WhatsApp group links, including those thought to be private

Written 3 months ago by IanDorfman

Whenever you create an invite link to chat with family and friends on WhatsApp, keep in mind that if you share that link on the web, it's possible that it could be indexed and discoverable via Small Google Search iconGoogle Search.

In a report by Vice, the ease of searching Small WhatsApp iconWhatsApp for links to groups of a variety of purposes is showcased. This can vary from groups that aren't sharing private information (such as groups explicitly made to share pornographic material) to groups as specific and important as United Nations-accredited non-government organizations.

Regardless of the nature of the group that can be found, the data that can be siphoned, such as the phone numbers of the participants, cannot be understated. Simply searching "chat.whatsapp.com" on Google returns 470,000 results, many of which link to countless WhatsApp groups.

WhatsApp gave the following statement to Vice after their report went live:

"Group admins in WhatsApp groups are able to invite any WhatsApp user to join that group by sharing a link that they have generated. 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."

Other end-to-end encrypted chat services that are available and less potentially compromising include Small Keybase iconKeybase and Small Signal iconSignal, with many others recommended and reviewed by regular AlternativeTo users.

Further coverage:
Vice