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WhatsApp Users in Kashmir Being Removed as Internet Shutdown Crosses 120 Days

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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.

NDTV Gadgets360.com

FACEBOOK

Two Billion Users — Connecting the World Privately

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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.

The post Two Billion Users — Connecting the World Privately appeared first on About Facebook.

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FACEBOOK

Facebook Owns Top Four of the Most Downloaded Apps of the Decade

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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.

NDTV Gadgets360.com

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WhatsApp Gets Call Waiting Feature on Android, but Without Call Holding: Here Are the Details

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WhatsApp has begun the rollout of an update for its Android app that brings a highly useful feature – call waiting. As the name clearly suggests, this features alerts users when they receive a WhatsApp call when they are already in the middle of another WhatsApp call with someone else. Rather than automatically disconnecting the second incoming WhatsApp call, users will now get an alert and can choose to either decline it, or disconnect the ongoing WhatsApp call to accept the other one. However, it must be noted that this is not the same as putting a call on hold, since two users can’t be on the same line simultaneously. The feature is now available for both Android, after being made available for the iPhone app late last month.

The latest WhatsApp update for both the beta as well as stable Android channels brings the call waiting feature. It is now available via the Google Play Store. The changelog also mentions the arrival of enhanced group privacy settings and the fingerprint unlock support for the app. We can confirm that the call waiting feature on WhatsApp is now available in version 2.19.352 of the stable Android app, as well as version 2.19.357 and version 2.19.358 of the beta app.

In case you haven’t received the update yet, you can download the stable build from APKMirror here. To recall, in late November, WhatsApp v2.19.120 for iOS brought the call waiting feature alongside a redesigned Chat screen, as well as the ability to quickly send your messages directly from the Braille keyboard when using VoiceOver mode.

How WhatsApp call waiting works?

Prior to the update, when Android users received a WhatsApp call in midst of another WhatsApp call, the incoming call was automatically disconnected and they would see a missed call notification when the existing conversation ended. But following the update, users can choose to pick up the incoming call while talking with another person.

The incoming call UI in WhatsApp now shows a green ‘End & Accept’ button alongside the ‘Decline’ button. If you press the red ‘Decline’ button, the incoming call will be cancelled and you can carry on with your ongoing call. However, if you tap on the ‘End & Accept’ button, the ongoing call will be disconnected so that you can talk to the other person.

Unlike call holding on a regular call over a cellular network, WhatsApp won’t allow you to put the second incoming call on hold and link with two people on the line simultaneously. You either choose to continue with the ongoing WhatsApp call, or disconnect it in order to accept the second incoming call.

In addition to call waiting, the new WhatsApp update also marks the wider rollout of the updated group privacy feature that allows users to decide who can add them to a WhatsApp call. You can check this out by following this path: Account > Privacy > Groups in the settings menu. The changelog of the new stable and beta WhatsApp updates also mentions the arrival of fingerprint lock feature for the app that was announced back in October. You can enable this feature by going to Settings > Account > Privacy > Fingerprint lock.

NDTV Gadgets360.com

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