Meta (Facebook) allegedly intentionally drains the battery of some users for testing purposes

Does Meta conduct tests to intentionally degrade the performance of its applications? This is suggested by the testimony of George Hayward. The ex-Metamate would have criticized these tests and was subsequently fired. He decided to take the case to court, filing a complaint against Meta.

In the document relayed in particular by The Register, George Hayward assures that the company that owns Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp would carry out negative performance tests. According to a piece of evidence referred to as an internal company document, Meta would refer to these tests as “Running Thoughtful Negative Tests” to “running reflective negative tests“. A fairly opaque process defined as “a method that measures impact by intentionally degrading certain user experiences“.

Meta would thus have studied “the correlation between the latency of the opening” of a link and “the probability that a user [le] comment.” A test that would have required in this case to increase the latency virtually in the application. In short: a voluntary degradation of the user experience for testing purposes. As the document indicates, Meta would also have supported the idea that “control image loading time” would be helpful.

Autonomy experiments

According to the exhibit, the American company would have resorted to such experiments on many occasions since 2016. In this context, Hayward affirms that his superior would have asked him one day to carry out negative tests within the group of Messenger battery efficiency. Hayward then reportedly expressed concerns about the safety of app users, fearing that they would no longer be able to use their phone to make an emergency call if the battery was completely drained.

Allegations supposedly ignored by the company, according to the ex-employee. “Meta chose to fire Hayward in an alleged downsizing to retaliate against him for complaining about Meta’s negative tests. Without his repeated objections, he would not have been included in the alleged downsizing“, says the procedure.

Filed on January 20, the complaint would have been withdrawn due to a clause of“internal arbitration” of Meta, according to plaintiff’s attorney. The latter asserts to The Register that he will soon file a new administrative complaint.

Contacted by our colleagues, Meta affirms that “Mr. Hayward’s claims are baseless.”

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