March 23, 2023

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A former employee says Facebook is intentionally draining users’ cellphone batteries

A long-standing rumor suggests that the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps drain the battery power of the mobile phones on which the apps are installed. If you believe former Facebook employee George Hayward, a data scientist, Facebook could be secretly draining the battery on its users’ cell phones on purpose. As I mentioned New York PostThere is, in fact, a name for what Facebook does, and it’s called “negative testing” and allows tech companies to secretly run batteries on someone’s phone in order to test features on an app or to see how an image they might upload would work.
Hayward was kicked out by a Facebook parent’s meta for refusing to participate in a negative test. “I said to the manager, ‘This can hurt someone,’ and she said that by hurting a few, we can help the larger masses. Any data scientist worth his or her interest will know, don’t hurt people,” Mail.

Hayward was fired by the Meta in November and sued the company in Manhattan federal court. The 33-year-old was working on the Meta Facebook Messenger app that delivers text messages, phone calls and video calls between users. In the suit, Hayward’s attorney, Dan Kaiser, notes that draining users’ smartphone batteries puts people at risk especially “in circumstances where they need to communicate with others, including but not limited to police or other rescue workers.”

The lawsuit had to be withdrawn because the terms of Meta’s employment forced Hayward to plead his case in arbitration. Kaiser says most people have no idea that Facebook and other social media companies can drain your battery on purpose. Commenting on the practice of negative testing, the lawyer added, “It’s clearly illegal. It’s outrageous on my phone, and anyone can tamper with the battery.”

Originally hired in 2019, Hayward was receiving a six-figure annual salary from Meta. But when it came to the company’s request for the negative test, Hayward said, “I refused to do that test. It turns out if you tell your boss, ‘No, it’s illegal,’ it won’t go over well.”

At some point during his work at Meta, the company handed Hayward an internal training document titled “How to Conduct Informed Negative Tests.” The document included examples of how to conduct such tests. After reading the document, Hayward said it seemed to him that Facebook had used a negative test before. He added, “I have never seen a more egregious document in my professional life.”

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