Google is indexing the invitations to WhatsApp group chats which make the invite links discoverable and available for anyone who wishes to join, even those to private group chats, as per Motherboard reports.
Journalist Jordan Wildon stated on his Twitter handle that he has discovered that WhatsApp’s ‘Invite to Group Link’ feature allows Google index groups to make the links available all over the Internet as those links are being shared outside of the platform’s secure private messaging service.
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
Jordon also mentioned that he discovered that while the group admins can invalidate a link to a chat whenever they wish to, WhatsApp only generates a new link in those cases and it does not necessarily disable the original link which had been created earlier. WhatsApp group links also have a warning attached to them which reminds the person who generates the link to share it only with the ones they trust.
Also, with the help of a few Google searches, Motherboard was able to reach the private WhatsApp groups where most of the results were centered around sharing pornography content. After they joined a group, which was intended for NGOs accredited by the UN, they were able to get access to the group members and could also access all the phone numbers.
WhatsApp spokesperson Alison Bonny stated to The Verge that the invite links which are posted by users publicly on the internet can be found by other users on the platform just like all every other content that is shared on the searchable public channels. He further added that links that users wish to share privately with the ones they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website.
Image credits: Unsplash | Antoine Julien