WhatsApp Web users’ mobile numbers found on Google Search

WhatsApp for Web
WhatsApp for Web

Amid concerns and huge controversy sparked over the upcoming privacy policy of WhatsApp, another data breach has been reported. This time, the mobile numbers of WhatsApp Web (Desktop) users have allegedly been exposed via indexing on Google search.

WhatsApp is primarily a mobile application; however, some users also use the Web version of the instant messaging app on their desktops.

Rajshekhar Rajaharia, an independent cybersecurity researcher, has shared some screenshots with news agency IANS. The screenshots show the indexing of mobile numbers of WhatsApp Web users on Google search.

“The leak is happening via WhatsApp on Web. If someone is using WhatsApp on laptop or on an office PC, the mobile numbers are being indexed on Google Search. These are mobile numbers of individual users not business numbers,” Rajaharia told IANS.

Earlier this week, private group chat links were showing up on Google Search, following which the Facebook-owned company said it had asked the search giant not to index such chats and also adviced WhatsApp users not to share group chat links on public domain.

The indexed WhatsApp group chat links were later removed from Google.
“Despite WhatsApp advising users and telling Google to remove the earlier exposed group chat links, the mobile numbers via WhatsApp Web application are now being indexed on Google Search,” Rajaharia noted.

In an earlier statement, a WhatsApp spokesperson had said that WhatsApp has included “noindex” tag on all deep link pages since March 2020 and according to Google, will exclude them from indexing.

“We have given our feedback to Google to not index these chats. Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website,” the company spokesperson said.

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