Prevent your WhatsApp number from appearing in Google results

Have you noticed a recent increase in spam and commercial calls on your mobile? If so, it may be because your WhatsApp number is starting to appear in search results of Google. But why? What's going on?

If you have ever used the "Click to chat" function of WhatsApp - this function that allows us to create a URL link or QR code to start a chat with someone without having their number saved in the contact list - most likely that your phone number has been indexed by Google and other search engines.

The “Click to chat” feature is a very convenient feature, especially if we have a business and we want our clients to be able to contact us easily, but unfortunately it also has its “dark side” and that is that it also grants a public visibility to our number on Google.

When you click on one of these "Click to chat" links, characterized by having a "wa.me" URL, a window for chatting opens directly in the browser or in the WhatsApp app.

WhatsApp numbers in the Google search engine: a bug or something premeditated?

There is some debate as to whether this is an indexing error on the part of the search engine or a deliberate result. The fact is that the Google algorithm collects the phone number from the metadata of the "Click to chat" link, to later be stored in the Google Search index. Upon detecting this behavior, many security specialists have been quick to classify it as a security leak, but both Google, Facebook and WhatsApp have ensured that this is completely normal.

In the end, it is not so important if we are facing an error or everything is part of the usual operation that makes up the gears of the Internet. The key is that very few WhatsApp users were aware that by using the "Click to chat" function they were also indexing their personal phone number in the Google search engine. Normally people do not publish their phone number to the four winds, so imagine what it must be like to see your mobile on Google. Not because we start to receive a lot of spam and robocalls, but because it can represent a significant gap in our security.

How to prevent Google from indexing your WhatsApp phone number

Although computer security experts have already contributed several ideas that could help keep WhatsApp numbers out of the reach of the Google search engine, it seems that at the moment none of these suggestions have been put into practice by the 3 companies involved in the affair.

At least for now, the only thing we can do is just not use the "Click to chat" WhatsApp under any circumstances. That drastic but that simple. If we have been using this function for a while, it is recommended that we delete any "Click to chat" link that we have published on our social networks, web pages and other publicly accessible sites. Likewise, we can also study the option of using WhatsApp with a Google Voice phone number (be careful, GV only works in the US and with G Suite accounts in certain countries), thus avoiding having to use our personal number when sharing links with the "Click to chat" function.

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