As journalist Jordan Wilson discovered, in the case of a distribution outside of WhatsApp, links that allow you to join a particular group in the messenger become available for detection via an advanced search on Google. Motherboard verified his research – journalists for the publication were able to find private groups, including groups whose members exchange pornographic content. By joining one of the chats (it was intended for representatives of non-profit organizations accredited by the UN), the journalists had access to the telephone numbers of all the participants.
The Verge post notes that group administrators in WhatsApp can cancel a valid invitation link and generate a new one, however, Wilson has found that the messenger in such cases creates a new link, but does not always deactivate the old one. .
A representative of the Facebook-owned messenger told The Verge that links, like any other publicly distributed content of invitation links, can be found by other WhatsApp users. He also noted that invitations to private groups should not be shared on pages indexed by search engines.
Google declined to provide an official comment on link indexing, but company employee Danny Sullivan wrote in his microblog that in this situation there is nothing surprising since the essence of the engines search is to index the sites and links placed there. At the same time, he recalled that site owners have the option of prohibiting the display of their pages in search results.