Since always, like the owners of electric cars, the owners of smartphones fight to optimize the autonomy of their toy. Indeed, if the screens have widened, the autonomy of our smartphones has tended to stagnate for many years, with the possibility of generally reaching a long day before having to go through the charging box. To gain autonomy, you can play with various parameters (brightness, screen frequency, Wi-Fi, etc.), but also optimize applications to make them less energy-consuming. However, at Facebook, it seems that we take pleasure in intentionally emptying, and in the greatest secrecy, the batteries of our smartphones.
“Negative tests” carried out in secret at Facebook?
You have probably already noticed that such and such an application tends to prematurely drain the battery of your smartphone. Some terminals are responsible for indicating that Twitter, WhatsApp or Facebook (to name a few) are running in the background, and that it would be good to optimize them. As far as Facebook is concerned, the battery drain would be voluntary.
Indeed, a former employee of Facebook, George Hayward, decided to attack the American giant. The latter believes that he was wrongfully dismissed, after refusing to take part in “negative tests” internally. These are experiments that allow companies, such as Facebook, to reduce the battery life of users’ phones without their knowledge in order to test new features, a new image loading system or even the application performance.
Also, George Hayward would have refused to develop this technique when he was working on the Messenger application. The latter believes that the technique can be dangerous for the user, with a smartphone that could run out of battery unexpectedly, while it is facing an emergency situation for example.
At present, it is impossible to know the exact content of the “negative tests” conducted by Meta on its various applications (Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.). However, the former employee of the firm indicates having received a document called “How to Run Reflective Negative Tests“, with various examples to demonstrate the effectiveness of these tests, but also their impact on users.
George Hayward claims he was quick to raise concerns about the practice, but was eventually fired for refusing to help develop the tests. Of course, this again raises the ethical concerns of the giant Facebook, which seems not to hesitate to exploit, generally without its knowledge, its very large audience to achieve its ends.