Google is indexing invitations to WhatsApp group chats, making the invite links including those to private group chats discoverable and available to anyone who wants to join.
Journalist Jordan Wildon had discovered that WhatsApp’s “Invite to Group Link” feature lets Google index groups, making them available across the internet as the links are being shared outside of WhatsApp’s secure private messaging service.
The group admins can invalidate a link to a chat if they wish, but Wildon says he found that in such situations WhatsApp generates a new link and does not disable the original link. WhatsApp group links comes together with warnings, reminding the person who generates the link only to share it with people they trust.
According to a Facebook / WhatsApp spokesperson Alison Bonny, 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. She also added that links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website.
Google did not provide any comment on the record, but Danny Sullivan, public liaison for search posted in Twitter that “Search engines like Google & others list pages from the open web. That’s what’s happening here. It’s no different than any case where a site allows URLs to be publicly listed.” He also included a link to directions in Google’s Help Center for blocking content from being included in search results.