If true, the whistleblower’s claims could confirm a popular online theory.
From the department of Dog Bites Man News, it would seem that once again Facebook has been accused of doing something shady. Sorry, we hope you had your fainting coach nearby before you read such a shocking sentence.
So what is this time?
Well, a whistleblower has come forward with an accusation that, if true, would confirm a theory about the company that’s been spreading for years, and would partly explain why you’re always having to recharge your phone.
What Did Facebook Allegedly Do This Time?
So for most of last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been in the news for Meta (META) – Get Free Report, the conceptual metaverse gambit that he’s tried to rename his company after, even though no one outside of the tech or business press will acknowledge the change.
Meta has become one of the great boondoggles of our time, and could very well find a place on the “all time great corporate mistakes” list, alongside New Coke and Blockbuster turning down an offer to purchase Netflix.
Meta is supposed to be a virtual world where users can log on and do … something …such as hanging out with friends or spending money to purchase virtual real estate that does not exist and therefore instinctively cannot have real value.
But the concept has not caught on with the public at large, as Meta lost a staggering $9.4 billion last year, and Zuckerberg lost $11 billion in one day. In response, Zuckerberg has reportedly surrounded himself with an inner circle of sycophants who keep telling him that one day people are going to come around.
So clearly, Zuckerberg has a lot of problems at the moment. But the thing is, you can always have more problems, and now he might have another big one to deal with.
Former Facebook data scientist George Hayward has said in an interview with the New York Post that he was fired for refusing to engage in the practice known as “negative testing,” a process in which tech companies covertly test out the limits of users’ systems.
This could, allegedly, take the form of draining a user’s mobile battery to test features, to see how fast their app runs, or how an image might load, according to Hayward. He worked on Facebook’s Messenger app, which has become a key communication app in many countries with more than 1.3 billion users worldwide.
‘By Harming a Few We Can Help the Greater Masses’
In the interview, Hayward alleges that the testing could harm users, such as in an instance when their battery is drained and they need to contact emergency services.
“I said to the manager, ‘This can harm somebody,’ and she said by harming a few we can help the greater masses,” said Hayward. He has now filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court, claiming that he was fired for refusing to comply with the negative testing.
“Any data scientist worth his or her salt will know, ‘Don’t hurt people,’” he told The Post. “I refused to do this test. It turns out if you tell your boss, ‘No, that’s illegal,’ it doesn’t go over very well.”
Hayward says he’s unsure how many people have been impacted by the practice, but he was given an internal training document titled, “How to run thoughtful negative tests,” which included examples of the procedure.
The lawsuit, which sought unspecified damages, has been withdrawn as Hayward is required to go to arbitration, according to his lawyer Dan Kaiser, who said Hayward stands by the allegations.
When reached for comment by The Byte, a Meta spokesperson replied: “Here is a statement you can use for your article. Mr. Hayward’s claims are without merit.”