Facebook deliberately drains users’ phone batteries: Former employee claims in lawsuit

Facebook deliberately drains users' phone batteries: Former employee claims in lawsuit

A former employee of Meta has sued the company, alleging that Facebook purposefully drains customers’ phone batteries while disguising it as feature testing. The former employee asserted that he was let go after he objected to this practice as damaging and refused to engage in it.

George Hayward, a 33-year-old data scientist, is claimed to have worked on Facebook’s well-known Messenger chat application. Hayward was hired in October 2019 but was sacked in November 2022 when Meta laid off 13% of its employees.

According to a lawsuit Hayward filed against the company, he discovered an internal training manual titled “How to run thoughtful negative tests” that included studies in which users’ batteries were purposefully and covertly depleted to test specific software functions. Hayward said the practice is called “negative testing.”

“I have never seen a more horrible document in my career. I said to the manager, ‘This can harm somebody,’ and she said by harming a few, we can help the greater masses… I refused to do this test. If you tell your boss, ‘No, that’s illegal,’ it doesn’t go over very well,” Hayward told New York Post.

However, the report does not provide additional details of the document mentioned by Hayward.

“Any data scientist worth his or her salt will know, ‘Don’t hurt people,'” he said.

The ex-employee denies knowing the precise number of people affected by this practice but insists that Facebook is guilty of it because of the internal training module.

According to the lawsuit that was filed in the Manhattan Federal Court, “killing someone’s cellphone battery puts people at risk, especially in circumstances where they need to communicate with others, including but not limited to the police or other rescue workers.”

Facebook Messenger is among the top four most-used social media platforms, with 1.3 billion users worldwide.

However, the lawsuit had to be dropped as the employment contract with Meta required Hayward to present his case in arbitration.


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