WhatsApp advises users to only share chat links with people they know and trust.
Rabat – Links to nearly 500,000 WhatsApp chats were recently found to be accessible through Google search, even those intended to be private, American news outlet Vice recently reported.
The app, owned by Facebook, recently celebrated over 2 billion users and is the top messaging platform in the world. Included as one of its many features is the ability to share access to a group chat by generating a link—and this is what has led to the most recent issue of privacy.
WhatsApp advises users to only share chat links with people they know and trust. However, it seems that Google was able to index many of these links.
The story broke on February 21 after German journalist Jordan Wildon tweeted the news and included a screenshot of Google search results that included WhatsApp links.
“Your WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think they are,” Wildon warned in the tweet.
The initial searches found over 470,000 results, according to Vice, and when accessed, the WhatsApp groups also included the phone numbers of each member. The links have since been taken down.
“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,” a representative from WhatsApp told Vice.
“Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website.”
To maintain security, WhatsApp users should reset the links in any group chats and refrain from sharing chat links outside of secure, private messaging.
The recent privacy scandal comes just months after the UN released reports suggesting the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman hacked Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and owner of the Washington Post, through a WhatsApp message.