The three apps – all of which are part of the Facebook company, and share common technology – stopped working on Friday afternoon UK time.
Users saw error alerts when they opened the app and were unable to send or receive messages.
Facebook’s official “platform status” page, which tracks problems for developers, indicated that the platform is “healthy” and that there was no known issues.
Instagram and WhatsApp do not have their own devoted server status pages, though Instagram’s official Twitter account has occasionally posted about major outages. WhatsApp’s “status” account was once used to keep users informed about any issues but has not posted since 2014.
The company has been hit by a small number of significant outages in recent years. As the three apps have become more closely intertwined, those outages have become larger, since a problem on one of the platforms usually means that all three go down.
Facebook has been working to integrate the backend of its messaging services, so that users can message between the different apps and to aid with the development of new features. Critics have also pointed out that the increased integration could also make any regulatory efforts to break up the three apps more difficult – and it also means that any outages are much more dramatic.
In March 2019, it was hit by the biggest technical issue in its recent history, as all of Facebook’s apps went down for more than a day. Such outages demonstrated the vast reach of Facebook, too: not only were all three of its own apps broken, but it also affected everything from its virtual reality platform Oculus to third-party sites that use its login tools such as Spotify and Tinder.
Facebook is usually relatively guarded about what causes its problems. After the 2019 problems, for instance, it said they had been caused by a “server configuration change”, but not specifically what had happened or how it might be avoided in future.
Since more than 2 billion people log into one of the company’s apps each day, even short outages can very quickly hit large numbers of people around the world.
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