WhatsApp says it has corrected a problem causing some users ’phone numbers to appear in Google search results.
The solution to the problem in the platform comes just days after being reported by the problem tracking researcher to the “Click to Chat” feature of the chat application, which creates a simplified link that can be used to join the chat.
The researcher, Athol Jayaram, revealed that the problem resulted in the appearance of at least 300,000 phone numbers in Google, when searching for “site: we.me”.
Jayaram says that Google indexed the numbers because WhatsApp failed to ask to be ignored by the search giant’s web link – a feature TechCrunch notes to web administrators.
WhatsApp said in a statement, “While we appreciate this researcher’s report and value the time it took to share it with us, he was not eligible for a reward because it only contains a search engine index for the URLs that WhatsApp users choose to publish to the public. All WhatsApp users, including companies, can block spam with the click of a button.
This is not the first time that WhatsApp has encountered privacy leaks, via Google’s algorithm.
Earlier this year, about 470,000 invitation links were found in the Google index, which can be checked out using simple search terms.
Anyone who finds a group link online can join the chat – enabling them to see potential private or confidential exchanges as well as member phone numbers and WhatsApp usernames