WhatsApp appears to be down around the world and that means that over a billion users are currently unable to use what is often their primary communication service.
At the moment, when users log into the app, the notification that it is trying to connect appears at the top of the screen and then... it just keeps connecting. According to the outage-tracking website Down Detector, the service that allows anyone to send text messages via wi-fi has been reported as down on every continent but Antarctica. Twitter is currently screaming. It seems that the outage has been going on for several hours.
Gizmodo reached out to the Facebook-owned company to see if they had an explanation or an update and this thin statement was the only reply:
We are currently experiencing a service outage. Our team is working to restore service as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience.
WhatsApp isn’t quite the phenomenon in the U.S. that it is around the world. But in developing countries and areas with expensive texting plans, the service is essential. It has also developed a large user base of people, like journalists and activists, who need a secure and convenient messaging service. It features end-to-end encryption that’s similar to Signal.
We’ll update this post as we learn more.
Update 10:05pm: WhatsApp is back but still no word on what caused such a massive outage. In an emailed statement to Gizmodo, a WhatsApp spokesman says, “We were experiencing a temporary outage. Our service is now restored. We appreciate your patience.” According to Reuters, many users in Brazil switched to the WhatsApp rival Telegram in the two and a half hours that the service was down in that country.