SRINAGAR: On Wednesday, tens of thousands of WhatsApp users in Kashmir abruptly began disappearing from the freeware cross-platform messaging, leaving behind only phone number “left” message.
Soon rumour spread across the Valley and beyond purporting that only those users of WhatsApp whose Internet connections have been restored by the authorities after their furnishing bonds that they will not access any social media are leaving it.
“Seems many people are able to access Internet from Kashmir, has it something to do with the Internet bond?” wrote one of the participants of Kashmir Observer, the WhatsApp group created by a Srinagar English daily. However, no one actually knew why and how people in the restive Valley where Internet services have not been available since August 5 when the Centre stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and split it up into two Union Territories are leaving WhatApp abruptly and explicitly. Interestingly, even several people incarcerated by the authorities and lodged in jails in and outside the Valley too were shown on WhatApp as those exiting it.
Facebook soon cleared the air saying the disappearances were the result of WhatApp’s policy on inactive accounts. It said, “To maintain security and limit data retention, WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity. When that happens, those accounts automatically exit their WhatsApp groups.”