WhatsApp is once again in the news after it was noticed that Kashimiris (specifically, those people living in Kashmir) have started disappearing from group chats on the platform. Many users reported their concerns on social media given the current situation in the valley that has no Internet for over four months. WhatsApp has acknowledged the development in a statement to Gadgets 360, clarifying that the disappearance is due to the long inactivity of WhatsApp accounts. Some of the affected users are likely to permanently lose their account data, including chat logs, images, and videos, if they aren’t able to back up the data in 30 days from the deactivation.
Many people this week began reporting that their Kashmiri contacts were suddenly leaving their WhatsApp groups en masse. This struck them as strange since Internet services are inaccessible in the Kashmir valley thanks to a blockade since the night of August 4, raising the question of how they were able to access the Internet to leave groups.
“Suddenly all my contacts from Kashmir are ‘leaving’ the #Whatsapp groups, and their WhatsApp accounts are getting lost. Remember there is NO internet in #Kashmir from the last 4 months. What kind of sinister moves are these? @facebook @WhatsApp @UNGeneva @UNHumanRights,” wrote one Twitter user.
Some users speculated that WhatsApp deleted the accounts of particularly Kashmiri people. However, a WhatsApp spokesperson told Gadgets 360 that the sudden vanishing of the concerned users were a result of the company’s policy for inactive accounts.
“WhatsApp cares deeply about providing users everywhere with the ability to privately communicate with their friends and loved ones,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “To maintain security and limit data retention, WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity. When that happens, those accounts automatically exit all their WhatsApp groups. People will need to be re-added to groups upon regaining access to the Internet and joining WhatsApp again.”
“Kashmir contacts automatically ‘exiting’ from WhatsApp groups today,” one of the users posted while raising the concern on Twitter. “I know they would not have been able to see my messages anyway, but this is heartbreakingly symbolic.”
BuzzFeed News first reported the disappearances of Kashmiri WhatsApp users. The publication quoted some friends and family members who felt dismay due to the removal of their contacts from their group chats.
As per an FAQ listing available on the WhatsApp site, the instant message app completely deletes accounts that remain inactive for up to 30 days. This suggests that it is quite likely that many of the affected users in Kashmir may lose their account data permanently if they don’t activate them or at least back up their information such as chat logs or shared images or videos.
India is an important market for WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned firm has over 400 million users in the country as of July this year. In the recent past, it also used the India user base to test features such as payments and frequently forwarded label.
WhatsApp Launches New ‘Together at Home’ Sticker Pack for Coronavirus Lockdown Chats
WhatsApp has introduced a new sticker pack called ‘Together at Home’. The instant messaging giant has partnered with World Health Organisation (WHO) to create these new stickers to reflect the feelings and emotions that people across the globe are going through at the moment. These new stickers will be available in the English, Hindi, and a host of other languages. WhatsApp introduced stickers two years ago, and since then it has become an important tool of expression on the social platform.
The new sticker pack is called ‘Together at Home’ and it aptly reflects all the moods during this period of staying indoors. It has a sticker that shows a man with a laptop wearing pyjamas depicting the new norm of ‘work from home’. WhatsApp promotes social distancing through stickers that depict an ‘air high five’ and ‘group video calling’. There are stickers inside the pack that show a man binge-watching a series on the bed, another man doing yoga with his dog, reminding people to wash hands, people catching up in balconies, and a female snooping on neighbours using binoculars. There are stickers that celebrate medical heroes as well as personal heroes during the COVID-19 crisis.
The “Together at Home” sticker pack is available within WhatsApp, and can be downloaded for free. It is currently available in English as well as text localised for 10 languages – Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. With this new sticker pack, WhatsApp looks to offer more ways to stay connected during the pandemic.
The company has been working on improving the WhatsApp experience recently, especially as more as more people stay and work at home. The latest beta has doubled the group calling limit from four to eight on WhatsApp, and now that it has been enabled for both Android and iOS users, the stable rollout should follow soon.
Is iPhone SE the ultimate ‘affordable’ iPhone for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Two Billion Users — Connecting the World Privately
We are excited to share that, as of today, WhatsApp supports more than 2 billion users around the world.
Mothers and fathers can reach their loved ones no matter where they are. Brothers and sisters can share moments that matter. Coworkers can collaborate, and businesses can grow by easily connecting with their customers.
Private conversations that once were only possible face-to-face can now take place across great distances through instant chats and video calling. There are so many significant and special moments that take place over WhatsApp and we are humbled and honored to reach this milestone.
We know that the more we connect, the more we have to protect. As we conduct more of our lives online, protecting our conversations is more important than ever.
That is why every private message sent using WhatsApp is secured with end-to-end encryption by default. Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals. Messages are only kept on your phone, and no one in between can read your messages or listen to your calls, not even us. Your private conversations stay between you.
Strong encryption is a necessity in modern life. We will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe. For even more protection, we work with top security experts, employ industry leading technology to stop misuse as well as provide controls and ways to report issues — without sacrificing privacy.
WhatsApp started with the goal of creating a service that is simple, reliable and private for people to use. Today we remain as committed as when we started, to help connect the world privately and to protect the personal communication of 2 billion users all over the world.
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Facebook Owns Top Four of the Most Downloaded Apps of the Decade
Despite courting controversies for couple of years like data privacy scandals and anti-market practices, Facebook and its family of apps have dominated as most downloaded apps of the decade — with main app Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram grabbing the top four spots in the top 10 apps of the decade list. According to data analytics platform App Annie, Facebook has dominated the mobile space representing the four most downloaded apps of the decade (the 2010-2019 period).
“Communication and social media apps are consumer favourites, accounting for 7 of the top 10 apps by downloads this decade,” said App Annie.
Other most downloaded apps of this decade were Snapchat (fifth), Skype (sixth), TikTok (seventh), UC Browser (eighth), YouTube (ninth) and Twitter (10th) on the list.
In terms of top 10 apps by all-time consumer spend, video streaming platform Netflix topped the chart, followed by Tinder and Pandora Music.
“Tinder was the most successful dating app of the decade in terms of consumer spend, coming in second place in the overall ranking behind Netflix,” said the report.
Others in the top 10 apps in the consumer spend list were Spotify and HBO Now, among others.
Subway Surfers was the most downloaded app game of the decade, driven by its strong adoption in India which accounted for over 15 percent of its all-time downloads (iOS & Google Play combined).
Games like Clash of Clans, Monster Strike, Candy Crush Saga were the top 3 apps by all-time consumer spend.
“Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga stand out as the only two apps to appear on both the top apps by downloads and consumer spend lists. Monster Strike, Puzzle & Dragons and Fate/Grand Order rounded out the top 5 apps by consumer spend for the decade,” said App Annie.
With a 5 percent increase in downloads, and 15 percent growth in consumer spend (excluding third-party Android) year-over-year in 2019, this trend is set to continue in 2020.