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Facebook may be secretly draining its users’ cell phone batteries, a former employee has sued.

The practice, known as “negative testing,” allows tech companies to “surreptitiously” wipe someone’s mobile juice under the guise of testing features or issues, such as how fast their app runs or how an image can load. , according to data scientist George Hayward. .

“I told the manager. “This could hurt somebody,’ and he said, by hurting a few, we can help the masses,” said Hayward, 33, who claims in a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court that he was fired in November to refuse. participate in negative testing;

Hayward worked on Facebook’s Messenger app, which allows users to text or make phone or video calls and is an important communication tool in many countries, he said.

George Hayward worked on Facebook’s Messenger app and raised concerns with a manager.
Helene Seidman

Messenger has 1.3 billion users worldwide, making it the 4th most used social media platform, according to the Digital 2021 Global Overview Report.

“Any researcher worth their salt will know, ‘Don’t hurt people,'” he told The Post.

Killing someone’s cell phone battery puts people at risk, especially “in circumstances where they need to interact with others, including but not limited to police or other emergency responders,” according to Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms. initiated lawsuit.

Mobile phone with Meta logo

Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, allegedly fired a data scientist who refused to participate in “negative testing.”

Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.


Mobile phone with low battery icon on screen

A dead cell phone battery can put users at risk, Hayward argued.


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

Hayward was hired in October 2019 for a six-figure gig.

He said he didn’t know how many people were affected by Facebook’s negative testing, but believed the company engaged in the practice because he was given an internal training document, “How to Run Thoughtful Negative Tests,” that included such examples. . conducted experiments.

“I’ve never seen a more horrific document in my career,” he said.

Most people likely have no idea that Facebook or other social media companies can intentionally drain a cell phone’s battery, said Hayward attorney Dan Kaiser.

The lawsuit, which sought unspecified damages, has since been withdrawn because Hayward must go to arbitration, said the attorney, who said Hayward stands by the allegations.

“It’s clearly illegal,” Kaiser said of the practice. “It’s annoying that my phone, the battery can be controlled by anyone.”

Meta did not respond to the message.



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