Meta-engineer claims Messenger is wasting your phone’s battery by running tests in the background

That’s it for the “negative tests”, you see

Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular messaging apps, but the service’s parent, Meta, doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to user advocacy. The social media giant is associated with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and has been the target of several security breaches in recent years. Worryingly, user interests seem to remain a secondary concern for Meta – now a former data scientist at the company says Messenger can knowingly drain your smartphone’s battery in the name of feature testing, potentially putting you in a dangerous position .


33-year-old data scientist George Hayward sued his former employer in Manhattan federal court for firing him in November, ending his three-year tenure at Meta (via Android Authority). Hayward’s lawsuit alleges the company relieved him of his duties after he refused to participate in negative testing – an industry term used to describe the practice of intentionally providing bad data to an application to ensure it will work when people use it incorrectly.

Hayward’s objection to negative testing was not about the practice itself, but rather how Meta went about it. When the company would remotely trigger negative tests on a Messenger user’s device, it would adversely affect that phone’s battery life. Most people pay close attention to their phone’s battery level throughout the day, but an unprecedented drain could, hypothetically, put them in a position where they can’t reach emergency services or a Member of the family.

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Meta whistleblower George Hayward on the steps of the Manhattan Federal Courthouse

Speaking to the New York Post, Hayward explained that the real danger is the lack of user awareness of Meta’s negative testing methods. But that’s not all – Meta would provide employees with manuals on how to run thoughtful negative tests that cite examples from real-life experiences. This seems to indicate that Meta performs these tests on a regular basis and potentially dedicates larger teams to these tasks. Unfortunately, Hayward adds that addressing the legality of the methods with superiors did not go over well – he implied that refusing to perform the tests got him fired.

Meta has not commented on Hayward’s allegations, but the lawsuit has since been withdrawn. It may continue if the mandated arbitration attempts between the two parties fail.

In the meantime, if you’re concerned about Messenger’s negative tests, you can head to its app info page on your Android phone, select “Battery,” then choose “Restricted” to prevent the app from s. ‘run in the background – just be aware that this may cause delayed message notifications. A better option might be to review your phone’s privacy settings and find other ways to save battery.

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