Slowly but surely, it appears that Facebook is getting its “family of apps” back online. The consequences of the longest outage in the company’s history, however, remain to be seen. On Thursday, one of Facebook’s underrecognized competitors, Telegram, said that it added three million new users in the last 24 hours. When it comes to Facebook’s long-term plans, that’s bad news.
Earlier this morning, Pavel Durov, the eccentric founder of Telegram posted a message to his account celebrating the flood of new users, taking the opportunity to say his service has “true privacy and unlimited space for everyone.” Of the products in the Facebook stable, the most direct competitor to Telegram is the private messaging service WhatsApp. According to the outage tracker Down Detector, WhatsApp is still experiencing issues.
At the time of writing, it appears that Instagram is the only major platform owned by Facebook that has publicly declared itself to be back in operation. We’ve reached out to the social network to confirm it’s still working to get its other platforms back online for all of its users and will update this post when we receive a reply.
Though WhatsApp isn’t particularly prevalent in the U.S., it has around 1.5 billion users worldwide and is a big part of Facebook’s growth plans as it prepares to integrate all of its messaging services. Telegram has a more modest userbase, with 200 million monthly active users as of last March. Durov’s announcement doesn’t mean that three million people have abandoned Facebook, but don’t underestimate the network effect if newcomers find they like Telegram and encourage their friends to join.
Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that private messaging is the most important factor in the company’s outlook for the future. But privacy may not be the most important competitive risk that Telegram represents. Before blockchain schemes were a glimmer in Zuckerberg’s eye, Durov was getting rich off of cryptocurrencies and last year his company raised $1.7 billion to develop some sort of decentralized e-payments system. The New York Times recently reported that Facebook is putting a ton of resources into its own blockchain-fueled payment system that could help it mitigate its reliance on advertising as its dominant source of revenue.
As for its short-term concerns, Facebook still hasn’t publicly stated why it was hit with such a devastating outage in the first place, and it’s unclear how it will deal with angry advertisers. The company has knocked down rumors that it was the victim of a DDoS attack.
According to research firm eMarketer, Facebook controls around 22 percent of the digital advertising market and it makes an estimated $90 million a day from advertisers. We’ve asked Facebook how it intends to resolve its issues with angry advertisers, but did not receive an immediate reply. Bloomberg reports that the company said it was evaluating the overall impact of the issue on Wednesday and is still open to “the possibility of refunds for advertisers.”
With the New York Times reporting that Facebook is under criminal investigation for actions related to data sharing with third parties, Wednesday was always going to be a bad day for the social network. The outage coupled with a possible loss of users and revenue just added to the pain. As of Thursday morning, the only good news for Facebook is that plunging stock price appeared to have found a floor.