WhatsApp went down for users across the UK this morning, with tens of thousands of people saying they couldn’t send or receive messages.
Downdetector, which tracks outages, said more than 69,100 problem reports had been submitted as of 8:28 a.m., with the issues first detected just before 8 a.m.
However, the number of users who experienced problems could be much higher due to the way the website collects data.
By 9:30 a.m. that figure had dropped to 29,917 – and just before 10 a.m. users noticed that services were back up and running as usual.
“We know people had trouble messaging on WhatsApp today. We’ve fixed the issue and apologize for any inconvenience,” a spokesperson for the platform’s parent company, Meta, said.
WhatsApp users around the world have taken to social media platforms, such as Twitter, to complain that the app is not working.
The #whatsappdown hashtag was trending on Twitter, with over 70,000 tweets and hundreds of memes flooding the internet.
Downdetector also found that over 11,000 users in India and 19,000 in Singapore reported experiencing issues.
Users found that although they could open the app and access their conversations, it failed to successfully deliver new messages or send messages.
People should be shocked that failures like this don’t happen often anymore
When a service like WhatsApp goes down, everyone is shocked.
So they should be. Shocked, this doesn’t happen more often.
Imagine how difficult it is to keep a system used by more than a quarter of the world’s population available at the push of a button.
If you can’t, I’ll tell you: it’s incredibly difficult. Yet despite this, services like WhatsApp work fine almost without exception.
Compare other networks, such as road or rail. As any commuter will tell you, they go down a lot more often than Reddit or Netflix.
Yes, one is physical and the other digital, but they are not as different as you think. Both are built by human hands. Both fail and must be repaired.
Of course there are differences, most obviously in scale. The gigantic size of services like WhatsApp means a breakdown matters to many more people than a lane closure on the M25.
But, as we saw today, there is also a difference in expectations.
When the trains are cancelled, we are not shocked. We grumble and redirect, just like many redirected people today, heading to iMessage, Signal or another WhatsApp alternative.
We take it for granted that our digital systems are there when we need them. It’s understandable, but it’s also a shame, because we take a modern miracle of engineering for granted.
When you use WhatsApp today, think about all the work that went into creating it. One day we may not be so lucky.
A persistent message appeared for many users at the top of the app stating that it is “connecting” to the server, but failed to do so.
Some of the most worried users were probably Tory MPs, with the platform widely used by backbench MPs, ministers and aides to discuss public messaging.
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A a cabinet reshuffle will take place today, so many MPs hoping to land a ministerial post were likely bereft of a vital means of sounding out advisers about their chances of being appointed during the period when the service was down.
The application has already been identified as a tool of choice for MPs plotting against their leader, and Boris Johnson is said to have often received summaries of key government information through the platform while he was prime minister.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms in the UK and globally, and is estimated to have over two billion active users worldwide.