WhatsApp's Private Group Chats Temporarily Became Public Via Google's Search Engine

WhatsApp's recent mishap with indexing resulted in various private group chats and mobile numbers becoming available to the general public via the Google search.

Consulting with Google on any matter of subjects and topics is almost a regular activity for most of the world. The site's expansive nature, smooth running, and pulling out only the most relevant content make for an excellent search engine used by millions. Perhaps too excellent even, as WhatsApp found out to their detriment. With invite links to private groups with curated members becoming public knowledge, its users certainly aren't happy.

This isn't even WhatsApp's first offence, as the exact same situation occurred once before in 2019. By allowing Google to index WhatsApp's information (indexing being the process via which search engines add new URLs to their results), people could easily corner down group invites that weren't sent to them. Admins and WhatsApp's community as a whole were having a field day, with pushback against the app. Users also complained about some of their IDs becoming publicly accessible due to the indexing, which is an alarming accusation regardless of its actual impact. WhatsApp was quick to fix the issue and limit search engine compatibility.

However, its seems like either through WhatsApp's repeated carelessness or Google's crafty machinations, these very groups and invite links were spotted in the wild yet again. Temporarily, at any rate. WhatsApp's quick reply stated that "noindex" tags were attached to deep links on their interface since March, 2020. While the validity of such a statement is questionable, tech website Gadgets 360 was able to confirm the current lack of search results.

While that may be a close to this chapter, WhatsApp's constant close shaves are striking a rather tender chord with their increasingly hesitant community. Especially with their new policy update fielding a barrage of criticism from users regarding its blatant harvesting of user data, more and more people are starting to look for alternatives. Apps such as Telegram and Signal might be seeing a boost in the coming years. And concurrently, WhatsApp may be experience the first ever solid decline it's ever encountered since inception. It seems that the incredibly large platform is facing trouble out-maneuvering the same potholes its parent company Facebook is stuck in with lashing accusations of user data extraction and a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission regarding illegal monopolization.

Read next: An update from WhatsApp urging people to share their personal information with Facebook
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