WhatsApp has been hit by a major outage, stopping millions of people from using it around the world.
People couldn't send or receive messages using the Facebook-owned app, apparently because of a server problem. Service appears now to be gradually being restored.
The app didn't initially look broken, with chats and contacts able to load. But once a user was into a chat, the app just showed a "connecting" message that never resolves itself, and so new messages couldn't be sent or received.
That also meant there was no easy fix to the problem, since it appears to be on WhatsApp's side. Shutting and opening the app, for instance, just reset the connecting message but wouldn't stop it showing.
The website Down Detector showed a huge spike in problems with the app, suggesting that almost everyone is unable to get online. The problems are focused in western Europe and Asia, but were reported across the world.
There were relatively few reports of problems from the Americas, but that might simply be a result of the fact that timezones mean that many people there were asleep.
WhatsApp Web, which uses the phone's connection, was also broken.
Unlike its owner Facebook, and many other large social networks and internet companies, WhatsApp doesn't maintain a page to give users information when the site is down. It has an official Twitter account that is supposed to post when it is experiencing problems – but that appears to have fallen into disuse, and hasn't posted since 2014.
It's far from the first time that WhatsApp has gone down, and it now appears to be doing so on a roughly monthly basis. The outages are often resolved quickly, though can sometimes also take hours to fix.
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