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Former employee says Facebook apps can intentionally drain your iPhone battery

If you’ve ever noticed that the battery drains abnormally fast while using the Facebook or Messenger app on your iPhone, it might not be a coincidence. According to a former metadata scientist, the company has the ability to secretly drain users’ Android and iPhone batteries as part of internal app testing.

In a interview with the New York PostGeorge Hayward says he was fired last November for refusing to participate in “negative tests” while working on the Messenger app. Second QASource, negative tests allow developers to “compare expected output against incorrect output” by revealing how an app responds to bad data. In Facebook’s case, negative tests could be used to see how well certain features work or how quickly messages load when their batteries drain faster than expected.

Hayward, who filed a lawsuit but later dropped it due to an arbitration requirement, says the practice “could harm someone” by draining the battery without warning. Hayward doesn’t say how many people might have been affected by the negative test or if the Messenger test ever made it past beta. However, Hayward told the Post he received an internal training document titled “How to Perform Weighted Negative Tests,” which included examples of ongoing battery-draining experiments. He then claims he was fired after three years with the company for refusing to participate in the tests.

Facebook apps have long been blamed for draining the iPhone battery. This reddit thread of 2020 showing the Messenger app using more battery than PUBG Mobile is just one of many examples.

It’s not clear from the report what the next steps in the lawsuit are, or if Facebook will be forced to respond. Hayward’s attorney says his client supports allegations of a “clearly illegal” practice.