Meta-owned messaging app WhatsApp went down for over an hour this morning in dozens of countries around the world, including the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Kenya, India, France and most of the United States and Canada.
City A.M. can confirm that the outage was for both personal chats as well as group chats and hundreds of millions of people worldwide can currently not use the app.
In the UK alone, over 40m users were affected, with hundreds of millions more in dozens of countries.
Outage detection website DownDetector confirms that WhatsApp was not working for millions of users.
Affected regions based on the website’s heat-map include major cities like London, Manchester, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Madrid and Brussels.
After opening the app on Tuesday morning, users have found that while they can still access their conversations, the app is failing to deliver new messages, or send any that they attempt to transmit.
A persistent message is showing for many users at the top of the app, saying it is “connecting” to the server, but then appears to fail to do so, leaving users unable to send or receive any messages.
According to the service status website Downdetector, users began reporting issues with WhatsApp at just before 8am on Tuesday morning, with more than 12,000 reports of issues reported to the website by 8.30am UK time.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms in the UK and around the world and is estimated to have more than two billion active users globally.
WhatsApp Web also appears to be affected by the outage, and it seems that the app’s web client is simply not connecting anymore.
Anyone trying to use WhatsApp Web will be greeted to an error message.
Thousands have taken to social media to complain that they are unable to send or receive messages on the popular Meta-owned platform.
WhatsApp has confirmed it is aware of the issue and is working to fix the problem.
Discussing the outage with City A.M. this morning, Jake Moore, Global Cyber Security Advisor at ESET, said: “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.”
“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.”Jake Moore
Moore said: 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.”
He added that “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.”
The outage leaves Tory MPs without a crucial communications tool on the day Rishi Sunak enters office as Prime Minister and begins a Cabinet reshuffle.
Among the most concerned users of the app are likely to be Conservative MPs – the platform is a widely used tool among backbenchers, Cabinet ministers, and their aides to discuss public messaging and regularly gauge the mood of the Parliamentary party.
And on the day of a Cabinet reshuffle, many MPs hopeful of landing a ministerial job will currently be without a vital way of sounding out advisers and contacts on their own chances and the fate of their colleagues.
Tool of choice
The app has previously been identified as the communications tool of choice for MPs plotting against their leader, and Boris Johnson is said to have often been sent summaries of key Government information via the app during his time in Downing Street.
In a statement, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: “We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble sending messages and we’re working to restore WhatsApp for everyone as quickly as possible.”
Different apps compared
While City A.M. readers wait for WhatsApp to come back online, experts analysed 24 mobile apps against a variety of factors, such as the volume of reported outage issues per million monthly downloads, the volume of Google searches during outages and app ratings.
The results reveal the popular apps that are the most unreliable on a scale from zero to five.
|App||Reported issues per million global downloads||Avg monthly Google searches for ‘[app] down’||iOS rating (out of 5)||Google Play rating (out of 5)||Overall reliability score (out of 5)|
With a reliability score of 1.50 out of 5, Facebook was revealed to be the most unreliable mobile app. On average there are 15 reported app issues for every million monthly downloads, two-thirds more than fellow Meta app, WhatsApp which had 9 issues per million downloads.
YouTube is the second most unreliable mobile app, with a reliability score of 2.36 out of 5. There are 36 reported app issues per million monthly downloads on average – four times the amount of Soundcloud .
Additionally, in the past year, there have been 673,500 search queries relating to the YouTube app being down, the highest of all apps analysed.
Twitter and Zoom
Twitter ranks as the third most unreliable mobile app.
On average, for every million monthly downloads there are 195 reported app issues, the highest of all apps analysed.
However, due to Twitter receiving 86% fewer search queries [33,170] relating to the app being down than Facebook [247,020], Twitter receives a slightly higher reliability score of 2.54 out of 5.
With a reliability score of 4.51 out of 5, Zoom is the most reliable app out of all apps analysed. There are just 3 reported issues per million monthly downloads on average, the lowest of all apps analysed.
Zoom received an average of 120 Google queries a month relating to the app being down last year, almost six times less than the number of queries Netflix received .
Meanwhile, while we are at it, a Censuswide survey of 2,012 UK mobile phone users, conducted by Uswitch.com for the mobile statistics hub, has revealed that over a third (34%) of UK adults allow their mobile apps to access their personal data.
The survey revealed that men (40.19%) are more likely than women (29.33%) to allow apps to access their private information, with almost half (49.38%) of 16–24 year olds stating that they do not refuse access to personal data when installing apps.
Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, said this morning: “There are several reasons why mobile app outages can occur, such as server issues, out-of-date software and cyberattacks.
“Apps which users have not updated recently may bare out-of-date software and so are at higher risk of being hacked. These attacks can also lead to app outages, so it’s important to make sure your apps are as up-to-date as possible.
“When you install a new app, it will often ask for permission to access personal data within your phone, such as your camera, microphone and location. It’s important to be aware of what each app has access to, so you don’t overshare or offer access to more information than it needs.
“If the app asks for permission to access your location or camera, pay close attention and assess whether this is a necessary part of the app’s function.
“Keep your downloaded apps up-to-date and review their permissions regularly. You can check your settings anytime and only allow them access to your personal data when using the app.”