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.