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Mobile numbers of WhatsApp on Web users found on Google Search

Technology|: New Delhi: As WhatsApp faces intense scrutiny over its upcoming data and privacy policy in India and elsewhere, another user data violation has been reported, this time on the WhatsApp on Desktop (Web) application, allegedly exposing personal mobile numbers via indexing on Google Search. Although WhatsApp is primarily a mobile app, currently being used by over 400 million users in India, some working professionals also use the instant chat app on their desktops and PCs via the Web version. Independent cybersecurity researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia on Friday shared some screenshots showing indexing of personal mobile numbers of WhatsApp users via Web version on Google Search. "The leak is happening via WhatsApp on Web. If someone is using WhatsApp on laptop or on an office PC, the mobile numbers are being indexed on Google Search. These are mobile numbers of individual users not business numbers," Rajaharia told IANS. Earlier this week, concerned at private group chat links being available on Google Search, WhatsApp said that it had asked Google not to index such chats and advised users not to share group chat links on publicly accessible websites. Google had indexed invite links to private WhatsApp group chats, meaning anyone can join various private chat groups with a simple search. The indexed WhatsApp group chat links have now been removed from Google. "Despite WhatsApp advising users and telling Google to remove the earlier exposed group chat links, the mobile numbers via WhatsApp Web application are now being indexed on Google Search," Rajaharia noted. A WhatsApp spokesperson said in an earlier statement that since March 2020, WhatsApp has included the "noindex" tag on all deep link pages which, according to Google, will exclude them from indexing. "We have given our feedback to Google to not index these chats. Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website," the company spokesperson said. The issue was first cropped up in February last year when app reverse-engineer Jane Wong found that Google has around 470,000 results for a simple search of "chat.whatsapp.com", part of the URL that makes up invites to WhatsApp groups. According to Rajaharia, the latest leak of personal mobile numbers via WhatsApp on Web has not been addressed so far by the either Facebook-owned platform or Google.

GulfNews Technology

As Wikipedia turns 20 it aims to reach more readers

Technology|: Paris: Wikipedia celebrates its 20th anniversary on Friday and the collaborative, volunteer-produced internet encyclopedia aims to spend the next 20 years further expanding free access to information. Founded on January 15, 2001 by the American-British entrepreneur Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia is now the seventh-most popular website in the world, with its more than 55 million articles being consulted 15 billion times every month. The website started in English but within two months had already launched in German and Swedish. It is now available in 309 languages. But Wales doesn't intend to stop there, with the languages of the developing world in the website's sights. "That's really important that the next billion people, two billion people who come online are going to want to participate in Wikipedia, to grow their own storehouse of knowledge, and they're going to rely on us to support that work, and that's a big part of how I think about the future," Wales told AFP in an interview. In 2006, Wales set the goal of having 100,000 entries in Wikipedia for every language with more than one million speakers, but he recognised that Wikipedia is still at least 20 years from achieving that. Wikipedia's non-profit status nature make it an outlier among today's internet dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook, and hark back to the web's early idealistic days when the open-source movement harnessed the talents of volunteers to offer free access to tools and knowledge. Wales said he was inspired by such collaborative efforts. "I'd seen the growth of open-source software, free software, and to me it seemed obvious that you could use the same kind of techniques to build a free encyclopedia, so I was in a real kind of panic because I thought this is such an obvious idea that other people will do it," he said. "But we actually were probably two years into the project before anybody noticed or cared, so maybe it didn't have to be so urgent." Wikipedia continues to be a volunteer-driven effort, with each language site built up independently from original contributions rather than translated articles. Unlike traditional encyclopedias, contributions by non-experts are welcome, which has driven innumerable debates about content and have led to restrictions on updating certain entries. The website has also come in for criticism due to the fact that its volunteers are overwhelmingly white males from Western countries, with critics saying it lacks information about women and developing nations