The newly popular Signal messaging service is currently experiencing an outage, which the company’s acknowledgments indicate is tied to growing pain from its rapid growth and the crazy influx of new users. However, we’re told it is working on a fix, and Signal appreciates customer patience in the meantime.
We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week nonstop, but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections. Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters. We appreciate your patience.
— Signal (@signalapp) January 15, 2021
The popularity of the Signal messaging service has been exploding in the last few weeks, in large part due to concerns surrounding the recent changes to WhatsApp’s terms of service. Starting earlier today, at around 10 AM ET, folks started running into issues, and the pace of reports has picked up significantly since then.
While we can’t really trust Downdetector in isolation, it’s also a good indicator that something could be up with a given service, and reports there and at other venues such as Twitter indicate trouble. In some cases, users claim they’re unable to log in, with an error message that states they are “disconnected” and to “check your network connection.” Others have an explicit error message that states: “Signal is experiencing technical difficulties. We are working hard to restore service as quickly as possible.”
One of the error messages Signal users might see. Thanks: Nicholas Blasgen.
For the unfamiliar, Signal is a privacy-centric messaging service available on Android, iOS, and desktop (including Windows, macOS, and Linux) that offers secure and encrypted communication. It’s open source and run by a non-profit, and a popular alternative to services like WhatsApp and Hangouts.
slack goes down and i am free
signal goes down and i am anxious
— Tony Romm (@TonyRomm) January 15, 2021
It isn’t surprising that Signal would run into an issue like this, given the pace of growth that it’s seen recently. Based on Play Store metrics, its userbase is up at least 5X in the last week alone, and that’s ignoring other platforms. The true numbers could be closer to 10 or 20X. With an explosion in new users like that, growing pains like these are basically inevitable, and today’s downtime is to be expected.
Signal told us around 11 AM ET that it was fixing the issue, and that it would be back to normal shortly, though it appears a resolution may be taking a little bit longer than originally planned. Given how quickly the service has grown, we can’t blame them for being sudden victims of their own success.