In 2014, Facebook essentially turned you into a science experiment.
The social media giant was outed after it manipulated the news feeds of 700,000 of its users to make them more positive or negative, prompting outrage from all corners of the internet. Facebook, we later learned, was testing whether or not messing with the content that appeared on its main page could actually alter your mood. Nice.
That’s why it may not come as a total surprise that Facebook is now accused of conducting a second experiment on its unwilling users. Except this time, it didn’t involve messing with your news feed.
Facebook’s second alleged experiment involved forcing its own Android app to crash in an attempt to gauge the loyalty of its users.
“Facebook has tested the loyalty and patience of Android users by secretly introducing artificial errors that would automatically crash the app for hours at a time,” tech reporter Amir Efrati wrote on The Information.
The purpose of the test, Efrati says, was to determine how frustrated users would get before they made the decision to ditch the app altogether. Gee, thanks Facebook. The interesting part is, the experiment was never successful in reaching that threshold, suggesting our addiction to social media is stronger than we might want to believe.
“Even if the native app continued to not work, the users would open Facebook on their phone’s mobile browser,” he wrote.
For its part, Facebook hasn’t issued any official statement about this alleged experiment.
Even still, The Information argues it was conducted several years ago but only came to light recently. And if you’re wondering why Facebook would want to sabotage its own app while driving its users crazy, that may tie into its rocky relationship with Google (which owns Android).
Efrati reports that Facebook may have been preparing for a potential conflict with Google that would have led to all of its apps being removed from the Android store. The experiment, therefore, was a way for Facebook to test its independence from the Android operating system, which is now used by roughly 1.4 billion people worldwide.
The even more unsettling part of this whole story, however, is that even when Facebook tried to get users so frustrated that they would ditch the app, they still kept it.
It almost makes you wonder what it would really take to make most people part with Facebook for good.