A lawsuit alleging that Meta ran tests that deliberately slowed app performance in a way that drained a smartphone’s battery comes after the social network sued a former staff member who said his contract would not allow him to sue in arbitration. It was withdrawn after being reminded of the request.
George Hayward, who worked at Meta for three years from 2019 to 2022, focused on battery efficiency. Alleged [PDF] He was fired for refusing to participate in what the company called a “negative test.”
according to show [PDF] In the case, it was alleged to be an internal meta-document called “Performing Thoughtful Negative Testing,” which the company called the practice “a way to measure impact by intentionally degrading some user experience.” is defined as
Negative testing measures impact by intentionally degrading some user experience.
This exhibit provides an example of one test that Meta performed to correlate the wait time to open a link with the likelihood of users commenting on that link. To do so using the negative testing method, a Meta employee comes to the conclusion that “probabilities of comments actually increase when latency drops below his 2 seconds, peaking at 2 seconds.” forced an increase in latency.
On the list of pros and cons of running negative tests, Meta likes being able to “control image loading delays” but notes that user complaints about throttling load times “will reduce engagement.” Consider the long-term effects.
“If one or more groups show a worrying negative impact on key engagement metrics, we have sufficient data (from these or other test groups) to turn them off prior to the planned date. Good judgment must be made as to whether or not,” Meta suggests in the document.
According to the negative test documentation, Meta has used this method numerous times over the years to test news feed scrolling performance, touch responsiveness, image load times, and more. The oldest test mentioned is from 2016, suggesting that users of Meta’s app may have had a negative effect on device and app performance for over five years.
The lawsuit states that negative tests are illegal in New York, where Hayward resides and the lawsuit was filed. Hayward’s attorneys argue that the test violates New York’s criminal tampering law, which prohibits damaging personal property without the person’s consent.
Hayward claims he was asked by his boss to run a negative test. This means that Messenger’s Battery Efficiency Group data, in his role as a scientist, intentionally drains the battery of a user’s device without the user’s consent.
Hayward worries that Messenger users whose batteries drained during testing will be unable to call for help in an emergency, his lawyers argued. In an internal message between Hayward and his boss (filed as a separate document in the case), the former Facebook employee said: said as much, [PDF] He added that running negative tests would expose Messenger users to greater risk.
In a screenshot of the message, Hayward said, “Regarding various consumer protection laws, I don’t really know if this is even legal.
Hayward claims that the retaliation began shortly after the last communication on the matter in July of last year. His allegations were ignored, he was given new responsibilities, he was doomed, reviews were rescheduled, canceled at the last minute, and despite allegations in the lawsuit, he was uniformly in the past. Even though it was rated positively, it received a low performance rating.
Arbitration may not stop blowing that whistle
Hayward was fired on November 9th last year. mass layoffs in meta. The lawsuit denies that it was a coincidence.
“Meta selected Hayward as part of a job cut that allegedly fired him in retaliation for complaining about Meta’s negative testing. It wouldn’t have been under suspicion,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit filed on January 20 was voluntarily filed dismissed [PDF] Hayward’s legal team six days later “instead of Meta Platforms. Inc.’s internal arbitration agreement”.
Daniel Kaiser, Hayward’s attorney in the case, said. register His team has no choice but to drop the case due to Meta’s internal arbitration clause, and hopes that talks between the parties will begin soon.
The Kaiser Company does not simply intend to settle arbitrations. An attorney told us in an email that he plans to file an administrative lawsuit with the Department of Labor, alleging that Mehta violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by firing Hayward for protected activities.
under Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) methodProtect whistleblowers in public companies like Meta.
We reached out to Meta to hear what he had to say about the allegations.®