Signal recovers from a day-long service outage

An influx of WhatsApp users led it to buckle under demand.

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Jon Fingas
January 17, 2021 1:32 PM
BRAZIL - 2021/01/15: In this photo illustration the Signal logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Signal has learned first-hand that there really can be too much of a good thing. As Android Police reports, Signal has recovered from an outage that plagued the secure chat service for over a day. Messaging and even sign-ins became unreliable as the company dealt with an influx of WhatsApp users worried that platform’s new privacy policy would compromise their data. “Expanded capacity” helped deal with the surge, Signal said.

The company warned that the outage might have led to some residual errors, such as missed messages. Future app updates should solve these automatically.

It’s not certain just how many users Signal added in recent days, but Apptopia told the New York Times there were 1.3 million new sign-ups on January 11th alone. Telegram has also benefited from WhatsApp concerns, having added 25 million new users in just three days.

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WhatsApp has contended that the exodus was the result of confusion, and stressed that it couldn’t read messages. However, the damage was already done — many were convinced WhatsApp would share chats with its parent, Facebook.

Signal’s outage and extended recovery suggest that demand is still strong. It’s certainly a nice problem to have for a relatively small service — the company had 20 million active users as of December, while WhatsApp had over 2 billion total users last February. The question is whether or not Signal can take advantage of that momentum after the uproar is over.

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Signal recovers from a day-long service outage