Facebook confirms that Facebook Messages experienced a limited outage today. It prevented some users from sending or receiving messages on both the web and mobile for 90 minutes, but chat is back at full-strength as of 7:30pm PST. The outage comes at an inconvenient time as Facebook is seeing increasing competition in the messaging space from Google and mobile-first startups.
Facebook says a small percentage of users were affected. We saw complaints of the outage from California, Texas and New York, and I experienced it myself.
When some mobile users experiencing the problems tried to press the Messages icon at the top of their Facebook app, the overlaid list of message conversations that’s supposed to pop up appeared blank. On the web, others and I received the message “Down For Maintenance: Sorry, messages are temporarily unavailable. Please try again later” when trying to send a message.
Instability is a big issue for Facebook as it tries to fend off new competition from Google’s unified Hangouts chat system, which launched last month at I/O. Meanwhile, novel image-based messaging apps like Snapchat and Line threaten to pull away younger users. Reliability is critical to making users feel confident that they’ll always be able to communicate with Facebook friends at a moment’s notice. At least Facebook has come a long way from 2009, when outages were much more frequent.
It’s been a day marred by social network outages, as Twitter suffered some breakdowns earlier today, June 3rd.