An ex-employee of Meta, George Hayward, has recently come forward with a stunning revelation. In a Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit, Hayward alleges that Facebook apps can intentionally drain the batteries of both iPhones and Android phones for research purposes. This practice, referred to as “negative testing,” allows tech companies to study the impact of low battery power on app performance. It’s a way for them to see how the app will perform under less-than-ideal conditions, such as when the battery is low, and make improvements accordingly.
However, there is a dark side to this practice, as it can harm the user’s experience. Hayward expressed concern that someone may require their phone battery for emergency calls, such as 911 calls, or critical functions like Crash Detection or Fall Detection. People who are engaged in critical activities, such as police officers or rescue personnel, may have their batteries depleted by the Facebook apps.
Hayward reportedly told his manager about these concerns, but he claims that he was told that “by harming a few, we can help the greater masses.” Despite his objections, Hayward was allegedly fired from Meta in November for refusing to participate in negative testing.
The internal training manual received by Hayward during his employment at Meta, titled “How to run intelligent negative tests,” provides examples of how to carry out such tests. This manual suggests that the dominant social media giant has conducted similar experiments in the past. However, Meta has not yet made a statement about the situation; one is anticipated to be released soon.
This revelation raises serious questions about the ethical considerations of tech companies and their practices. If these allegations are true, it’s a concerning violation of user privacy and trust. Users deserve to know if their phone batteries are being drained intentionally, and they deserve to give their consent if they choose to participate in such experiments. The outcome of this lawsuit will be closely watched by the tech industry and the general public, as it has the potential to change the way tech companies operate.