Facebook made its Android app crash to test your loyalty

In an effort to see just how far it could go to get Android users to abandon its platform, Facebook reportedly sabotaged its mobile app in years past with errors that would cause it to crash for hours. The Information reports that Facebook wanted to test users' loyalty despite issues. Where the tests took place and how many users were affected is unclear, but one thing is: people were actually willing to sit through the errors.

"People never stopped coming back," a person familiar with the tests told The Information. In fact, those who were afflicted by the secret errors for long periods defaulted to the mobile browser version of the social network, rather than give up on Facebook entirely.

The tests were reportedly part of a larger effort on Facebook's part to prepare for a future conflict with Google that would force its apps out of the Play Store. Facebook, despite being the biggest app developer on Android, presents a growing threat to Google. Even though the social network depends on Google for distribution, its users could one day potentially bypass Google altogether, manually downloading Facebook apps and services via an App Store that compete directly with Google's. While no one is planning to drop Facebook from the Play Store anytime soon, the tests seem to indicate that Facebook leaving the Play Store behind could happen at some point in the foreseeable future. Facebook has declined to comment.


This is what lock in does. Ecosystems mean it doesn’t matter how good or bad your product is. I don’t see it happening but I hope the internet moves away from Ecosystems and towards protocols.

This also strikes me as hella unethical…

"See? No problems with our app! No need to optimize battery and RAM usage! People don’t mind the non-existent issues."

For the record, Facebook Messenger is fantastic. The Facebook app I avoid like the plague though.

Yep agreed. Messenger plus the mobile version of facebook is a good combination. All due credit to Facebook, their mobile webpage is really very good.

Except Messenger is one of the biggest resource intensive apps you can put on your phone. having that installed on an older phone and using it a lot destroys your battery. I am not saying hangouts is much better though. For texting apps, they are both pigs…

On iOS the apps is light and fluid. Just turn off background app refresh. It also doesn’t suffer from a weird bloating problem that Facebook and Twitter have.

What’s wrong with the Facebook app?

You read the article?


But I’m assuming that by "The Facebook app I avoid like the plague though", he means this is a long-term thing and not a decision he’s made based on this hours’ old article.

It’s a huge battery drain. The android facebook app cause the phone to have a ton of wake locks throughout the day that kill the phone’s battery. I just recently got a Nexus 6P and if I have the facebook app installed I get about 3-3.5 hours of screen on time and I need to charge it every night, but with the app uninstalled I can get about 4.5-5 hours of screen on time and can pretty easily get away with only charging it every 1.5-2 days.

One app that only gets used for about 15-30 minutes a day shouldn’t cause that much of a discrepancy in battery life.

I wouldn’t call Facebook Messenger "fantastic", since it fills 70MBs of RAM just to push and pull text and ocassionally download a picture (at extra RAM expense).

But since all my friends use FB for messages, instead of Hangouts, I am forced to use it in order to get notifications when messages come. Anyway… it could be worse (Skype, that dog is horrid on Android and even on Microsoft’s own Windows platform).

But stay away from the Facebook app and it’s 1GB cache. My sister has the FB app in her LG F60 phone (with a whooping 4GB internal storage) and has literally no space for anything else.

PS: I guess users weren’t affected by the artificial crashes of the FB app because the regular ones were more numerous.

The artificial crashes would be periods up hours though. But yea, I agree.

Add it to Facebook’s already long list of unethical actions.

I use Messenger from time to time, but I’ve not used Facebook for Android in years.

Is it still a pitiful mess?

It’s a little better (especially in that they now have a tablet-optimized app) but my big beef is still that Messenger is a separate app. Whenever I get the message notification, I just open up the mobile site in Chrome. I’m not installing two Facebook apps.

Any company can have as many apps as they want, but what bothers me about it is that the message notification is still within Facebook. So it’s part of Facebook, but it’s not. It’s a separate part of Facebook that you have to install separately. Which is just really dumb, and I’m not gonna do it.

Ew. At least with messenger you have that overlay bubble so you don’t have to switch apps. Your method is really convoluted and a waste of RAM. The only thing worse than their messenger app is their mobile site. You chose the greater of two evils.

What are you talking about? The mobile site works just fine and is way lighter weight than the full app.

Also the floating heads thing is intrusive garbage that I just disable anyway – the Messenger app is a much better experience with that nonsense switched off.

Oh man, that’s the one thing I miss from Android. There was a third party app that duplicated that functionality for texts that I thought was very useful.

Honestly, I like messenger being a separate app because it means I don’t need to have the facebook app installed. If Facebook fixes all the wakelocks their app causes then I’d agree with you, but until then, I want them to remain separate.

I could just use Privacy Guard, but I can’t really be bothered with it all any more. I don’t really care about posts and birthday reminders and app/game invitations (seriously, who invented those?!).

Events and Messenger are the only redeeming qualities of Facebook (imo).

It has gotten better in the past year, but it still uses way too much RAM and battery to be useful. I haven’t had it installed for three+ months and don’t miss anything when browsing on Chrome.

I wonder what other core business and other social experiments they use the whole platform for?

Jokes on them. I deleted the POS app and don’t even use the website anymore.

I’m sure they noticed.


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