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What's up with WhatsApp? Messaging platform suffers outage in the UK

Massive spike in user reports on DownDetector, no word on cause

Updated An outage has hit global messaging system WhatApp early on Tuesday morning.

Owned by social media giant Meta, the mobile instant messaging platform saw users begin to report service outages from around 09:00 UTC. More than 12,000 reports were posted within half an hour, according to the service status website Down Detector. Users are still reporting issues, although the rate appears to be slowing.

It is unclear how many of WhatsApp's 2 billion worldwide users are still struggling to access the service. Some services had recovered in parts of the UK by 11am UTC.

The Register has asked WhatsApp parent Meta for comment.

Jake Moore, global cyber security advisor at infosec vendor 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. 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."

In a pitch for business, Amandine Le Pape, co-founder of decentralized messaging app Element, said the ongoing blackout at WhatsApp "highlights that global outages are one of the major downsides of a centralized system."

"Centralized apps mean that all the eggs are in one basket. When that basket breaks, all the eggs gets smashed. Decentralized systems are far more reliable. There's no single point of failure so they can withstand significant disruption and still keep people and businesses communicating."

Instagram, also owned by Meta, suffered 106 outages in 2021, according to UK price comparison site Uswitch. Facebook went down 95 times.

With all the problems at Meta, today's WhatsApp outage is perhaps a minor blemish. A shareholder that owns a 0.1 percent stake in Meta yesterday called for the group to layoff one in five staff and lop $5 billion in annual capital expenses to "get fit and focused."

Updated at 11.47 UTC on 25 October 2022 to add:

WhatApp says it has "fixed the issue and apologize for any inconvenience". ®

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