Around the world, the breakdown at WhatsApp left many at a loss. In Brazil, the messaging service is by far the most widely used app in the country, installed on 99% of smartphones, according to tech pollster Mobile Time.
WhatsApp has become essential in Brazil to communicate with friends and family, as well as for a variety of other tasks, such as ordering food. Offices, various services and even the courts had trouble making appointments, and phone lines became overwhelmed.
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians in their homeland and abroad fretted over the WhatsApp outage.
Many of the country’s more than 11 million people depend it to alert one another about gang violence in particular neighborhoods or to talk to relatives in the U.S. about money transfers and other important matters. Haitian migrants traveling to the U.S. rely on it to find each other or share key information such as safe places to sleep.
Nelzy Mireille, a 35-year-old unemployed woman who depends on money sent from relatives abroad, said she stopped at a repair shop in the capital of Port-au-Prince because she thought her phone was malfunctioning.
“I was waiting on confirmation on a money transfer from my cousin,” she said. “I was so frustrated.”
“I was not able to hear from my love,” complained 28-year-old Wilkens Bourgogne, referring to his partner, who was in the neighboring Dominican Republic, buying goods to bring back to Haiti. He said he was concerned about her safety because of the violence in their homeland.
“Insecurity makes everyone worry,” he said.
In rebel-held Syria, where the telecommunication infrastructure has been disrupted by war, residents and emergency workers rely mostly on internet communication.
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