Google search shows invitations to private WhatsApp groups22. February 2020
Google search shows invitations to private WhatsApp groups
New York, 22.2.2020
Your private WhatsApp group may not be as private as you would like. Multimedia journalist Jordan Wildon has noticed that Google indexes at least some WhatsApp group invitations in its search, so it’s possible to slip into groups that want to avoid this at all costs. While most groups can be considered harmless, some contain sensitive data. This concerns, for example, a group that apparently exchanges information with UN-accredited non-governmental organizations. In this case, the list of all 48 participants including their telephone numbers was shown.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s spokesperson for public searches, stressed that it was “no different” from any other situation where websites allow the public listing of links. He added that Google offers tools to block the inclusion of content in the list.
Concerns appear to have been circulating at least since November 2019, when a Facebook representative told a user that this was an “intentional product choice”. This should mean that it is possible to keep private chats truly locked by asking members not to share invitations in public spaces. The problem, of course, is that it only takes a less attentive participant to make a link public. It also undermines Facebook’s claim that its future is private-it’s difficult to maintain privacy when a link shared in a location is visible to everyone.