NEW YORK (AFP) - WhatsApp's 450 million worldwide users were unable to access the smartphone free-messaging service for several hours on Saturday, three days after Facebook declared it was lavishing up to US$19bil on it.
"Sorry we currently experiencing server issues. We hope to be back up and recovered shortly," WhatsApp said in a message on Twitter that was retweeted more than 25,000 times in just a few hours and provoked ridicule because it comes so soon after Facebook's hefty acquisition.
Some WhatsApp users found they were unable to connect to the app, while others complained their messages were not going through.
WhatsApp did not say how long the outage lasted, but about 2.5 hours later it tweeted again to say: "WhatsApp service has been restored. We are sorry for the downtime..."
The specialist website techcrunch.com suggested the problem might be down to "a surge of signups and usage that has overloaded its servers" after the publicity the app garnered following Facebook's announcement on Wednesday.
Facebook is betting huge on mobile with the eye-popping cash-and-stock deal for WhatsApp, which was only started five years ago but has quickly grown as a free alternative to text messages.
It is Facebook's biggest acquisition and comes less than two years after the California-based Internet star raised US$16bil in the richest tech sector public stock offering.
Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook were immediately available for comment.
However, the outage was the source of much amusement - as well as anger - on Twitter.
"I expect you are all away from your desks on the ales drinking some of that Facebook cash!" one user, "leonclarance," replied to WhatsApp's tweet about the blackout.
Another simply tweeted: "Turn down Facebook's offer guys!"