WhatsApp accounts from J&K users

NEW DELHI: The four-month Internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir has caused many WhatsApp users to lose access to their accounts.

Under WhatsApp's global policy, accounts that remain unused for 120 days are automatically deactivated. When J&K completed exactly 120 days of Internet shutdown on Wednesday, residents woke up and were unprotected from their accounts and groups.

A WhatsApp spokesperson told TOI that this was not a specific feature of J&K, but a policy for all inactive accounts. To maintain security and limit data retention, WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity. When that happens, those accounts automatically leave all WhatsApp groups. It will be necessary to re-add people to the groups by regaining access to the Internet and joining WhatsApp again, ”said the spokesman.

Messages and multimedia files will be available subject to the latest backup on Google Drive. The application has about 400 million users in India, but does not reveal the geographic distribution of its user base.

Telecommunications analysts said that about 1.5 million WhatsApp users could be affected. It remains to be seen if other Internet-based services, such as social media accounts or netbanking, also face a similar destination in the coming days, they added.

Since only users in the Valley were affected by the continuous interruption of the network for 120 days in a row, it is estimated that around 1.5 million WhatsApp users could have been deactivated on Wednesday, said Faisal Kawoosa, founder of the company of techARC telecommunications consulting.

Kawoosa added that it had been adjusted for residents who can travel in and out of the region, keeping their accounts alive. Coming from J&K, Kawoosa on Wednesday night witnessed 200 of his friends and family based on WhatsApp groups leaving the Valley.

Suddenly I saw several members of my school and WhatsApp family groups being reported as lefts, he said. Khalid Shah, a Delhi-based professional with roots in J&K, told TOI that it was surreal to see those who had been silent for four months suddenly leaving all the groups.