Vietnamese scramble to look for alternative platforms amid Messenger outage

By Tuan Hung   March 5, 2024 | 11:42 pm PT
Vietnamese scramble to look for alternative platforms amid Messenger outage
Several applications for texting and calling, including Messenger and Telegram, are seen on a phone screen. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Hung
Thanh Luu, 34, said he could not find an alternative texting platform for all his group members to use when the Messenger application went down Tuesday night.

Luu, who lives in Hanoi, said there are eight members in his group chat, who often communicate with each other late in the evening due to them taking overtime work. On Tuesday night, the Messenger application by Meta suffered an outage, right when the group needed to finish a job to send the products to their clients.

"Some people do not have Telegram or Viber, while others do not have WhatsApp or Zalo. Finally, we decided to settle for Telegram as five people were already using them, so the other three only needed to spend a few minutes to download the application and created accounts," he said.

"However, the service was also slow and overloaded when Messenger encountered an error," he added, saying that the group later decided to create additional groups on other platforms, just in case.

Luu is one of many Vietnamese users who struggled with the Meta services outage on Tuesday night, as applications like Messenger and Instagram take an increasingly tightened grip on people's daily lives in the country, both personally and professionally.

Ngoc Vy, from the southern province of Binh Duong, also said she usually has work exchanges with her online sales colleagues on Messenger in the evening. When the service encountered an error, she switched to Zalo, but the service also could not send text messages. Several users said Zalo also got laggy, around 10 minutes after Messenger encountered problems.

Chau Pham, from Hanoi, said it's been a long time since he texted his lover on the standard SMS service. He said he would remind his loved ones to install additional texting applications in the future.

Around 96.8% of Internet users in the 16-64 age group in Vietnam use online platforms, including applications and websites, to text, according to a February report of Kepios. Messenger is one of the most popular texting applications, with 76.6% of the users using it, followed by Telegram at 32.6% and iMessage at 18%.

Many people have neglected saving phone numbers in their contact lists, as applications like Messenger only require social media accounts to be used.

At around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, several services by Meta like Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Threads suffered an outage, logging out users and preventing them from logging back in. The problem was most resolved an hour later.

But as of Wednesday noon, several Facebook and Messenger users in Vietnam still could not gain access to their accounts on their mobile phones, mainly due to issues with two-factor authentication.

Experts however said it was a system error, and that users should wait until all Meta platforms resume operations normally before trying to log in again. Meta has neither provided a cause of the issue, nor a timeline for the issue to be completely resolved.

A similar incident also happened to Meta back in 2021, when several of its services could not be accessed globally. The incident lasted six hours, and Meta later said the incident was caused by "configuration errors." In 2019, the web version of Facebook also experienced an outage for 24 hours.

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