People on one of the world’s most popular messaging services are currently unable to send or receive messages.
WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging services in the world, is down. This—and not the crazy string of messages you sent a couple hours ago or your personality (which is great by the way)—is why you haven’t heard back from your crush.
Update 6:42 PM EDT: WhatsApp seems to be back up for most people, including me. I hope you got all those messages you were waiting for! The service was down for more than two hours.
Users around the world reported being unable to send or receive messages, and when I tried to load the app, I was greeted with this “Connecting” message:
Floods of comments on the site Down Detector report that the messaging service appears to be down around the world. At least some users reported that they were having trouble with the service as early as 4:17 PM EDT, an hour and a half before this post went live.
A spokesperson for WhatsApp says that the company knows WhatsApp is not up but is instead down: “WhatsApp is aware of the issue and working to fix it as soon as possible.”
This happened mere hours after a large portion of people with Gmail accounts got spammed with phishing links; some have theorized that the two could be related, but there’s no concrete evidence right now to make that link.
WhatsApp outages are uncommon, but it’s a good reminder that something we now think of as basic infrastructure—WhatsApp allows more than 1.2 billion people to send and receive messages over wifi—can indeed go down. The service is a vital communication tool for people in developing countries as well as for activists and security-minded people—the service’s default end-to-end encryption makes it one of the safest platforms out there.
Here’s how WhatsApp works, as explained in 2014 by Rick Reed, a software engineer at the company. In the video, he explained that even with many hundreds of servers, it’s still possible to have an outage service-wide. A February 2014 outage was caused not by server load but by a router glitch that caused WhatsApp’s nodes to continually disconnect and reconnect.
“When we reconnected it was in an unstable state we had never seen before,” Reed said. “We finally decided we had to stop everything.”
I emailed Reed asking him why WhatsApp went down this time, but he did not immediately respond. Presumably, he is trying to fix the service. Presumably, your crush is waiting patiently for him to do so, so they can resume flirting with you.
As Reed said, WhatsApp is designed to never ever go down: “We’re flying an airplane that can never land.” It can, however, crash.