News & Analysis

ChatGPT, Claude Witness Major Outages

The simultaneous outages had the industry worried though things were quickly back up

In science fiction terms, this could well have been the apocalypse of the Generative AI-led chatbots where not one but three major names saw outages of varying lengths. If ChatGPT saw a multi-hour outage in the early hours and then again during the day, Anthropic’s Claude and Perplexity had a similar fate, albeit of a much shorter duration. 

 Things began going wrong on Tuesday morning in the United States but before social media handles could issue an “Apocalypse Warning”, they were all back up. Though Google’s Gemini held steady during this period, users did note that they faced issues for a brief while when the service was offline.

How come all AI providers went off together?

 Though it became clear that neither was there an alien attack on our artificial intelligence, nor  an apocalypse waiting to happen, these events have prompted a discussion on how all AI providers could experience outages almost at the same time. Was it a signal of things to come around the broader infrastructure issue or is there an internet-scale problem out there – of the kind that impacts social media sites all at once. 

 Of course, one would get to know only after the respective owners of these AI chatbots come back with something in the way of an explanation. There are those who argue that the crash at Claude and Perplexity could have been a result of excess traffic moving in because of the outage faced by ChatGPT. 

What exactly happened and when?

 Reports on social media noted that ChatGPT’s landing page faced issues around sending it messages. It began around 7:33 AM (20:03 IST) and got fixed at 10:17 AM (22:43 IST). Of course, this isn’t the first such instance that OpenAI’s popular chatbot has faced in recent times. At  one point, the ChatGPT website suggested that it was running at full capacity. 

 In fact, they even had a message that said, “Explain the status of ChatGPT as a pirate” with the following message appended:

“Ahoy mateys! We be havin’ a lot of scurvy dogs checkin’ out ChatGPT right now, and we be doin’ our best to make sure every landlubber gets a chance to give it a try. We be sorry for any inconvenience this be causin’, but we promise it’ll be worth the wait. Hang tight, and check back soon, ye swashbucklin’ scallywags! We be eager to see what ye think of our chatbot. Arr! 

Of course, Claude’s website wasn’t as swashbuckling with their messaging. Theirs simply read: “An error occurred in the Server Components render. The specific message is omitted in production builds to avoid leaking sensitive details. A digest property is included on this error instance which may provide additional details about the nature of the error.” “Try Again”, the message said and users reported that they were back up by noon. 

As for Perplexity, the website also served up an over-capacity message. It just said “We’ll be right back” and added that “We’re getting a lot of questions right now and have reached our capacity. Please come back soon.” They also came back up around the time Claude’s outage was fixed but did see intermittent down times since then. 

Why did folks get worried initially?

Readers would recall that ChatGPT had recently resolved a major outage that impacted its services overnight. The chatbot was down for users across the world during the early hours that resulted in a spate of complaints across social channels. It later turned out to be a bug that was being fixed with the matter being continuously monitored. 

The issue assumed significance as video-sharing app TikTok confirmed an instance of cyber-attack that targeted several brands and celebrities. The ByteDance-owned company said the attack was limited to a small number of accounts but added that they were working with users to restore access to these accounts.