Shocking : Facebook intentionally crashed its Android app in a bid to test user patience

According to a report published by The Information, Facebook had opted to deliberately crash its Android application for weeks at a time in order to test the loyalty of its social network users.

The report alleges that Facebook intentionally crashed the app for some users for several weeks to see how many of its users would continue using the platform despite the issues faced or abandon the platform altogether. “The company wasn’t able to reach the threshold,” the site says, with someone familiar with the experiment adding that “people never stopped coming back”. The users simply used the mobile web version of the site, rather than give up on Facebook entirely.

In what’s believed to be another experiment, Facebook removed its app from Google Play store in certain markets, and pushed a link on its website for direct download. The tests were reportedly carried by Facebook to gauge its dependence on Google’s ecosystem and prepare itself for a future conflict with Google that would force its apps out of the Play Store. The social networking giant has been threatened with removal before, as it does not always follow Google’s rules.

This is not the first time Facebook has monitored its users’ emotional responses. In June 2014, the company was roundly criticised for subjecting 600,000 users to psychological testing without their prior knowledge or permission. It changed the tone of the user’s news feed to intentionally highlight the positive or negative content visible on subjects’ news feeds and then attempting to discern whether doing so made their own postings happier or sadder.

A spokesman for the network said at the time that, “We do research to improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible.”

Recently, the social networking site has introduced a filter to prevent inadvertently reminding you of a photo or friendship you would rather forget through it’s On This Day feature. It has also created a feature to notify users if it suspects they are being spied on by government agents such as the NSA or GCHQ.

While Facebook doesn’t specify exactly how it identifies such offenders, chief security officer Alex Stamos said: “To protect the integrity of our methods and processes, we often won’t be able to explain how we attribute certain attacks to suspected attackers.”

“We plan to use this warning only in situations where the evidence strongly supports our conclusion.”

Even though Facebook could make its app work without the Google Play store, it would also have to develop its own replacements for many of the services provided by Google Services, including the ability to provide automatic updates and in-app purchases.

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