An ex-Meta employee has sued Facebook, alleging that the social media platform intentionally drains users’ smartphone batteries under the guise of testing features. The former employee claimed he was sacked when he highlighted this practice and denied being a part of it. The law suite comes at a time when
big Tech firms including Meta, Twitter, Amazon, and many more have laid off over 70,000 people worldwide, over law few months.
The law suite is filed by a 33-year-old data scientist, named George Hayward, according to a New York Post report. Hayward claims that he worked at Facebook’s Messenger chat application. In the lawsuit, he explained that he came across an internal training document titled “How to run thoughtful negative tests”. The document consisted of experiments where users’ batteries were drained in the name of testing certain features of the app. Hayward says the practice is called “negative testing.”
“I have never seen a more horrible document in my career,” Hayward said, adding, “I said to the manager, ‘This can harm somebody,’ and she said by harming a few we can help the greater masses… 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,” he added. However, the report does not provide additional details of the document mentioned by Hayward.
As per the report, the lawsuit has been filed in the Manhattan Federal Court seeking undefined damages. The lawsuit claims that draining users’ phone batteries put them in danger, especially when “they need to communicate with others, including but not limited to the police or other rescue workers.”
Reportedly, Hayward joined Facebook in October 2019. He claimed that he was fired in November 2022 as he refused to participate in “negative testing.” Meta laid off more than 11,000 employees in the same month.