Facebook voluntarily consumes the battery of smartphones, without warning us

George Hayward, a 33-year-old data scientist, was fired last November by Meta for refusing to participate in negative tests on Facebook and Messenger apps. He has filed a lawsuit against his former company in Manhattan court. According to his statement, Meta can discharge the batteries of its users’ smartphones without their knowledge to carry out tests.

Test the app without our knowledge

Addressing the New York Post, George Hayward explains the practice of “negative testing”: it allows digital companies to secretly drain a user’s battery to test certain features or fix problems. This can be related to the speed of running an application or loading an image.

When asked to do it, the former employee told his manager that it might harm someone. The latter allegedly replied: “By harming a few, we can help the majority.” He had been hired in October 2019 “for a six-figure position”, specifies the newspaper. While Hayward doesn’t know how many people have been affected by the negative tests, he believes Meta is resorting to the practice.

Negative consequences

For George Hayward, draining a smartphone’s battery can prevent its user from communicating, especially with the police or emergency services, as he indicated in his complaint. Furthermore, we can think that it damages the batteries of the devices, since they have to undergo multiple recharge cycles.

The lawsuit, seeking damages, was dismissed, with Hayward having to go to arbitration. According to his lawyer, the practice is illegal. As for Meta, the company has not commented on the case.

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