One of the most widely used messaging services is Facebook Messenger, but its parent company, Meta, has a spotty history of protecting users’ interests. The social media behemoth has recently been the target of multiple security breaches and is infamously linked to the Cambridge Analytica affair. The fact that a former data scientist for the firm believes Messenger can intentionally drain your smartphone’s battery in the sake of feature testing, potentially placing you in danger, is concerning because it shows that user interests continue to be Meta’s secondary concern.
Data scientist George Hayward, 33, filed a lawsuit against his former employer in Manhattan Federal Court after being fired in November, terminating his three-year employment with Meta (via Android Authority). According to Hayward’s lawsuit, the business let him go because he refused to participate in negative testing, which is the technique of deliberately supplying false data to an app to ensure that it will work when users use it inappropriately.
Hayward disagreed with negative testing, but not because of the method Meta used to conduct it. The battery life of a Messenger user’s phone would suffer when the business remotely initiated negative testing on that user’s device. The majority of people keep a close eye on their phone’s battery level throughout the day, but in the event of an extreme depletion, they can find themselves in a situation where they are unable to contact family or emergency services.
According to Hayward, who spoke with the New York Post, the true risk comes from users not being aware of Meta’s negative testing procedures. But that’s not all; according to reports, Meta also gives staff members manuals on how to conduct considerate negative tests that use examples from actual research. This appears to suggest that Meta runs these tests frequently and would perhaps assign larger teams to the job. Sadly, Hayward continues, discussing the appropriateness of the procedures with superiors didn’t go over well; he hinted that refusing to submit to the tests would result in his termination.
Hayward made certain claims, but Meta hasn’t responded to them. The lawsuit has subsequently been dropped. If the required arbitration attempts between the two parties are failed, it may go on.
If you’re worried about Messenger’s negative testing in the interim, you can go to its Program Info page on your Android phone, pick “Battery,” and then select “Restricted,” to stop the app from operating in the background. However, be aware that this could cause delayed message alerts. Reviewing the privacy settings on your phone and looking for more battery-saving techniques may be a preferable course of action.