7th December 2023 5:59 pm
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Facebook drains phone batteries on purpose, lawsuit claims

  • A lawsuit filed in a Manhattan Federal Court claims that Facebook drains the battery of user smartphones to test some of its features.
  • The lawsuit was filed by a former employee and data scientist who claims he was fired for refusing to take part in one of these tests.
  • While the lawsuit has been withdrawn, the former employee maintains his allegations, citing an internal letter he received from the company.

If you’ve ever wondered why scrolling through Facebook absolutely mangles your battery life, it may not just be your binging of funny cat videos and repurposed TikToks.

A new lawsuit filed by an ex-Facebook employee claims that Facebook has a testing practice that intentionally drains smartphone batteries.

First covered by The New York Post, the ex-employee, data scientist George Hayward, claims that this practice is called “negative testing.”

Negative testing is often used to test software for unexpected data and conditions. One example could be to test software if an unexpected power failure happens during operations.

Or, in the case of an app like Facebook, how does it operate in low battery conditions? How quickly do images load, videos, etc?

Hayward claims that he told his manager how this practice of battery draining could be harmful, only to be told “by harming a few we can help the greater masses.”

In the lawsuit he filed in a Manhattan Federal Court, Hayward states that he was fired from the Meta-owned social media platform for refusing to participate in this negative testing.

“I refused to do this test,” he claims. “It turns out if you tell your boss, ‘No, that’s illegal,’ it doesn’t go over very well.”

Hayward adds that he refused to perform the test because he felt that draining the battery of smartphones would make people vulnerable in case they needed to contact emergency services or similar.

This lawsuit has now been withdrawn since Hayward is required to go to arbitration – an out-of-court method of resolving a dispute between a worker and an employer – but he stands by his allegations, according to his lawyer.

Hayward alleges that he received an internal training document titled “How to run thoughtful negative tests” in which battery-draining experiments and examples of them being carried out are detailed.

“I have never seen a more horrible document in my career,” he added, saying that he doesn’t know how many users have been affected by the alleged tests.

Prior to his termination, Hayward worked at Facebook’s Messenger division. This app allows users to send and receive text messages as well as videos and images, and to make phone or video calls.

He was hired in October 2019 for a six-figure position.

Hayward’s lawyer, Dan Kaiser, said that the tests were “clearly illegal,” adding, “It’s enraging that my phone, that the battery can be manipulated by anyone.”

This would not be the first, nor the last of lawsuits filed against Facebook and its owner. Meta has a long, storied history of legal battles and incriminating allegations all the while its social media platforms remain the most popular on Earth.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Luis Monzon

Luis Monzon

Journalist. Covering education, AAA gaming and consumer tech. Reach me at Luis@htxt.co.za.

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