Google and YouTube are returning to normal but the internet giant has provided little detail about the major outage of multiple services that simultaneously crashed across the world for millions of users, sending the internet into a spin.

According to the website Down Detector, which tracks reports of major online service outages, almost all of Google's major services shut down overnight including Google Drive and Hangouts.

YouTube, Gmail, Google Photos and Google Docs also suffered outages and Google's office tools including Google Maps and its smart home products were also hit. Even Pokemon Go was down, reports indicate.

YouTube users were experiencing the message "something went wrong" while other messages included "there was an error".

Down Detector reports service in Australia ran smoothly until approximately 10.30pm, with reports of errors spiking at 10.59pm. Other countries affected included the UK, Russia, India, the US, Italy, Germany and New Zealand.

Some users reported that YouTube could be accessed through incognito mode.

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Google told users as the shutdown began that "there are no disruptions with Gmail" but later acknowledged on its workspace status dashboard that it was "aware of the problem" and said a "majority" of its users were experiencing issues with its services.

It did not give provide a timeline or a reason for the outage but the BBC's Zoe Kleinman said "one spokesperson said they were unable to access their email during the outage".

The services hail from American multinational conglomerate Alphabet Inc. and while outages are not exactly unusual, Bloomberg Tech Editor Nate Lanxon noted, the "outage is notable for its pervasiveness across the Alphabet portfolio".

Teachers overseas complained they couldn't continue to teach lessons while students were unable to submit final exams. Workers were also affected, unable to access their Google Docs or use Gmail's chat function as they worked from home.

Google's Workspace Status Dashboard red overnight.
Google's Workspace Status Dashboard red overnight.

 

Gmail chart that reports a spike in issues.
Gmail chart that reports a spike in issues.

 

As the service shut users out, #YouTubeDOWN and Google became the top trends online. More than 175,000 tweets were posted about Gmail alone. Google's main site appeared to be working however some users seem to be affected also.

It comes four days after Facebook, Instagram and Messenger were hit with an outage that saw users unable to direct message one another.

 

 

It’s when google is down and you can’t heat your home that you realise how scarily reliant you are on google

👀 pic.twitter.com/9lsk0c6kRN

December 14, 2020

 

The day came. When you can’t even google what happened with google.

It’s still 2020.#googledown #YouTubeDOWN #googlemeetdown #YouTubeDOWN pic.twitter.com/UXZ2UJt03s pic.twitter.com/LIEwcWUtEd

December 14, 2020

 

 

The breakdown apparently did not affect all users as some indicated the services remained operational even during the worst of the outage.

The outage came on the same day that the tech giant faced a new Digital Services Act from the European Union which is designed to ensure tech companies take more responsibility.

The Digital Services Act and its accompanying Digital Markets Act will set strict conditions for companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon to do business in the EU's 27 countries.

EU vice president Margrethe Vestager and commissioner Thierry Breton will unveil the laws that could see such companies designeted "gatekeepers" making them subject to special oversight.

"We've come to a point where the power of digital businesses -- especially the biggest gatekeepers -- threaten our freedoms, our opportunities, even our democracy," said Vestager.

"So for the world's biggest gatekeepers, things are going to have to change. They are going to have to take more responsibility."

 

Originally published as Internet erupts as Google goes down



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