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Just search Google to access WhatsApp group chats, but it’s not the app’s fault

22 mayo, 2021

We all aspire to keep our messaging conversations private so that no one can read them, and this is the case practically all the occasions. However, there are loopholes through which our privacy can leak, as has recently been discovered. Because, did you know that by searching Google you can find WhatsApp group conversations? Well, it is such that so, we have verified it. Although there is no need to be alarmed.

As VICE has shared today in an article that is causing a lot of controversy (like everything that concerns privacy on WhatsApp), the famous messaging application suffers a small hole in group chats. Just open Google, type ‘https://chat.whatsapp.com’ and discover countless private group conversations that can be read just by accessing the invitation link. This, which at first seems extremely serious, is not the fault of WhatsApp, but of the users. And it has its logical explanation.

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If you publish a link on the Internet, it is indexed

Link Invitation Group Whatsapp Invitation link to a WhatsApp group

As simple as that: everything that is published on the Internet is susceptible to being indexed by search engines such as Google. So it is enough for someone to share the invitation to a WhatsApp group in a forum for that conversation to be accessible by anyone through a simple Google search. And with her all messages, photos, videos and the rest of the content that is shared in the chat, with the enormous privacy risk that this entails.

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Various Twitter users shared their searches and discoveries around private chats accessible with a search, such as Jordan wildon or Jane Manchun Wong. How to access these groups is illustrated in the tweets: just type ‘https://chat.whatsapp.com’, the root URL of the group invites, to access countless of those invitations. And by following any of them, you can access the conversation and everything that has been shared in it.

Posting the invitation to a WhatsApp group implies that Google and other search engines index it to show it in their results

As we said, that it is so easy to locate private conversations on the Internet is not the fault of WhatsApp since nothing that happens in the application is accessible by Google and other search engines. Although of course, if the creator of the group (or its administrators) publish an invitation link in forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other pages that allow indexing, all those links will be accessible to anyone looking for them. It’s like leaving your front door wide open: someone is likely to sneak in; without us being able to blame the door manufacturer.

Link Invitation Group Whatsapp

Although the controversy has arisen with WhatsApp, this messaging application is not the only one that sees its group invitation links indexed: it also happens to Telegram. Just search “http://t.me/joinchat” in Google to find countless groups, not always public. As happens with WhatsApp, if someone publishes an open invitation link, this link would open the door of the conversation to anyone just by looking for the page.

Our recommendation is that group invitation links are not published: these must always be private. Because you never know who can sneak into conversations.

WhatsApp has issued a statement to clarify its position:

“WhatsApp group administrators can invite any WhatsApp user to join that group just by sharing the link they have generated. Like all content shared on public search channels, other WhatsApp users can find invitation links that are posted on the Internet. Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website. “

Via | Vice