Tried to text your friends on WhatsApp without getting anywhere this morning? You’re not alone. The Meta owned messaging app has suffered a massive service outage this morning, leaving tens of thousands of users unable to connect to their friends. Unsurprisingly, rival firms have already leaped upon the opportunity to gloat.
“The ongoing outage of WhatsApp highlights that global outages are one of the major downsides of a centralised system,” said Amandine Le Pape, co-founder of Element, a decentralised and British messaging app used by governments and spies worldwide.
The platform, used by Emmanuel Macron, bagged $30m last year in a Series B funding round.
“Centralised apps mean that all the eggs are in one basket,” Le Pape said. “When that basket breaks, all the eggs get smashed. Decentralised systems are far more reliable. There’s no single point of failure so they can withstand significant disruption and still keep people and businesses communicating.
“It’s one of the reasons why we’re seeing an increase in enterprises using Element and the decentralised Matrix network, particularly for mission-critical operations.”
WhatsApp is also trending on Twitter, with scores of users turning to the rival social media platform to find out about the outage.
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WhatsApp outage started this morning
The WhatsApp outage began around 8am UK time when the first reports about problems with the communications app started to pour in. Downdetector reported that there have been over 100,000 reports of problems with the service since. FIfty-six per cent of the reports were about troubles with sending messages and 39% were about server connection issues.
So far Meta hasn’t issued a comment about the WhatsApp outage or responded to Verdict’s requests for one. However, that hasn’t stopped people from speculating about whether or not the outage could be due to a cyberattack.
“Whether it be malicious or otherwise, this highlights the significance of vast hosting companies directing data around the internet along with companies and individuals relying on single points of communication,” said Jake Moore, global cybersecurity advisor at cybersecurity firm ESET.
“It would be difficult to point the finger at an attack at this early development stage, but it cannot be ruled out due to the impact a potential attack could have. Suppliers which bottleneck data for billions of devices and networks are an obvious target and should they ever be hit with the perfect attack and last for days it could be catastrophic.
“Multiple areas will inevitably be significantly impacted as a result of this downtime, along with an predicted financial hit but lessons from other recent prominent times when the internet has gone down will have hopefully taught many to have access to other forms of communication.”
Not the first time WhatsApp has been down
As pointed out by The Verge, this is the first time that WhatsApp has suffered an outage after several Meta platforms – including WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus and Facebook – went down last year. That outage lasted almost six hours and Meta blamed it on a configuration change to its routers. Right now, all the company’s other platforms seem to be working fine.
These outages could send massive shockwaves across multiple sectors as over two million users use WhatsApp each month. For instance, last year’s outage hobbled the entire gig economy in Brazil, which heavily reliant on the platform.
Last year’s outage also prompted more calls to break up Meta’s empire, the outage providing more ammunition Facebook critics for why the social media giant should be broken up.
“We need alternatives and choices in the tech market, and must not rely on a few big players, whoever they are, that’s the aim of [the] DMA,” said EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager via Twitter.
GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.