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The Silicon Review Asia

WhatsApp resolves and fixes bug that leaked group chats on Google Search

WhatsApp resolves and fixes bug that leaked group chats on Google Search

WhatsApp has resolved an issue wherein some of its private groups and user profiles were accessible on Google Search. The development comes at a time when WhatsApp is facing a backlash from its users over its new privacy policy and terms of service that seeks to share more user data with parent Facebook. Many multinational companies had started issuing advisories to staff, asking them to avoid sharing sensitive company information on WhatsApp and stop using the platform for critical business calls.

The bug, spotted by cybersecurity researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia, allowed users to join a private WhatsApp group, see their participants and phone numbers along with updates shared within the group. Rajaharia stated that over 1,700 group invite links and more than 7,000 profiles were appearing in Google search results.

Some of these links led to groups sharing pornography, while others were for groups dedicated to specific interests or communities. These links are, however, no longer appearing in search results. WhatsApp had not included the robots.txt file for 'chat.whatsapp.com' subdomain which had led to the indexing of these groups and profiles. Robots.txt is a global standard used by developers to instruct search engine crawlers as to which pages can or cannot be processed from their websites.

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