scorecardPeople in Kashmir are being forced out of WhatsApp for no fault of their own
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People in Kashmir are being forced out of WhatsApp for no fault of their own

People in Kashmir are being forced out of WhatsApp for no fault of their own
Tech2 min read
  • WhatsApp accounts of Kashmiri users are being deleted after 120 days of inactivity.
  • Facebook spokesperson maintains this is according to WhatsApp’s policies to maintain security.
  • Users will have to re-register their numbers on WhatsApp once internet services are restored.
There has been a shutdown of internet services in Kashmir since the government scrapped the state’s ‘special’ status on August 5. Since then, internet services have been largely suspended in the Kashmir valley as the Narendra Modi government feared a backlash from the locals for its decision.

While unsuspecting Kashmiris kept on clamouring for the restoration of data services in the valley, they have been hit by another shocker. Kashmiris started exiting WhatsApp group en masse, prompting their friends and family in other parts of the country to share screenshots on social media.

Several Twitter users voiced their concern sharing screenshots showing that several users have left the groups.

“I initially thought that internet services had been restored in Kashmir and maybe these people were just removing themselves from WhatsApp groups on their own. But I quickly realized that’s not the case,” Mudasir Firdosi, a London-based Kashmiri, told BuzzFeed News adding that he was part half a dozen WhatsApp groups,

Government did what it had to and now WhatsApp is doing what it has to

The sudden deactivation of WhatsApp accounts of users from Kashmir may seem alarming to some. However, there is a simple explanation for this.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Facebook spokesperson revealed that the accounts have been deactivated as part of WhatsApp’s policy on inactive accounts and there is nothing suspicious about it.

“To maintain security and limit data retention, WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity”, said the spokesperson. He added, "When that happens, those accounts automatically exit their WhatsApp groups. People will need to be re-added to groups upon regaining access to the Internet and joining WhatsApp again.”

Facebook has not revealed the number of users affected by this policy. Users whose accounts have been deactivated will have to re-register on WhatsApp and join these groups again.

No mention of 120 days policy on WhatsApp

According to messaging app’s FAQ page, WhatsApp assumes that if your account is inactive for 45 days, you must have stopped using that number, and another user must have obtained it via the mobile service provider.

For security purposes, WhatsApp removes account data to make sure the new user of the number cannot misuse it but it does not explicitly say that the inactive account will be deleted.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy informed the Lok Sabha earlier this month that the internet curbs in Kashmir were imposed to check “aggressive anti-India social media posts being pushed from across the border.”

See also:

Here’s how to check if someone has blocked you on WhatsApp

WhatsApp to soon get dark mode, self-destructing messages, multiple device support and more