Update (06/10/2020 – 10:30 a.m.). At the time this article was published, Google was indexing thousands of links to the address “api.whatsapp.com/send?phone=”. They also revealed the phone numbers of various WhatsApp users. Hours later, however, these links have disappeared from the search results. The error, now yes, has been completely corrected. Both the headline and the entry of this article have been updated to reflect the new changes. The original body of this news, however, can be read from the following paragraph.

After disclosing that WhatsApp was revealing the phone numbers of thousands of users In Google searches, the North American company has corrected the failure, although only partially. The problem is that Google indexes the numbers from the Click to Chat functionality. This WhatsApp option allows you to generate a link to a WhatsApp profile, which can be integrated into a web page.

After researcher Athul Jayaram reported the problem, WhatsApp removed from the search engine the results related to the URL wa.me. However, the failure persists if we type in the search engine site: https: //api.whatsapp.com/send? Phone =. A simple consultation with the mentioned text returns hundreds of results with phone numbers. However, it is a strange phenomenon considering that the aforementioned page, as Hypertextual has been able to verify, currently includes the noindex tag in its HTML code, which prevents Google from indexing the information. To know more details, Hipertextual has contacted WhatsApp and we are waiting for an official statement about it.

A few hours ago the company assured TechCrunch that phone numbers appear in searches because people decided to make them public. “All WhatsApp users, including businesses, can block spam messages at the touch of a button,” said a spokesperson.

Why is it a problem that Google indexes your WhatsApp number?

There are several problems with having telephone numbers indexed by Google. Input can serve to create a database to send SPAM. In the initial report, Jayaram stated that up to 300,000 numbers appeared in the search. With a little work and taking advantage of the little attention people pay to your privacy, you could reverse engineer to discover more data.

A number from the search could be added as a contact on WhatsApp to view profile picture. If the user has it configured as public, it can be extracted and perform an image search to confirm whether it is associated with social network profiles. If the user is not cautious – as in most cases – the same WhatsApp photo is found on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.

While WhatsApp fixes this bug, the most It is recommended to review the privacy options within WhatsApp. Make sure that both your profile photo and account information are only available to your contacts or choose the “Nobody” option. It is also a good time to take a look at the settings of other platforms and avoid making your data available to everyone.

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