Former Facebook Employee Accuses Company of Draining iPhone Battery with Apps

The draining of an iPhone battery while using the Facebook or Messenger app may not be coincidental. A former Facebook data scientist has claimed that the company has the ability to deplete users’ Android and iPhone batteries for the purpose of internal app testing.

In an interview with The New York Post, George Hayward alleged that he was fired from Facebook last November for refusing to participate in “negative testing” while working on the Messenger app. Negative testing allows developers to evaluate an app’s performance under adverse conditions by examining how it responds to invalid data. In Facebook’s case, this may involve draining a user’s battery to assess certain features or message loading times.

Hayward, who filed a lawsuit but later withdrew it due to an arbitration requirement, stated that the practice “could harm someone” by unexpectedly draining their battery. He did not specify how many people might have been impacted by the negative testing or if the Messenger testing ever progressed beyond the beta stage. However, Hayward claimed that he was given an internal training document titled “How to run thoughtful negative tests,” which included examples of battery-draining experiments. He alleges that he was fired after three years with the company for refusing to participate in the testing.

Facebook apps have been frequently criticized for causing iPhone battery drain. There are numerous examples of this, including a 2020 Reddit thread that highlights the Messenger app using more battery than PUBG Mobile.

It is not clear from the report what the next steps in the lawsuit are or if Facebook will be required to respond. Hayward’s lawyer maintains that his client stands by the allegations of this “clearly illegal” practice.

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