Facebook had secretly tested the loyalty of its users by deliberately crashing Android apps, according to a bombshell report. Worse, users of the Facebook app for Android were unknowingly used as guinea pigs in order to test whether the social media giant can survive if dumped by Google Play.
As it turned out, the relationship between Facebook and Android has not been going smoothly for the past years. Hence, the social media giant initiated experiments that tested whether users would stay when the eventual fall-out with Android takes place.
“Facebook has tested the loyalty and patience of Android users by secretly introducing artificial errors that would automatically crash the app for hours at a time,” The Information revealed, citing one person familiar with the matter.
This may explain why there was the annoying Facebook crash on Oct. 24, 2015. The Android Facebook app was also crashing randomly on May 19 2015. Then back on Oct. 11 2013, it crashed every five seconds or so.
Facebook continued to run various experiments to test whether users would stay even if the day comes that it is not distributed or updated through Google Play. “It’s turned off the Facebook app from being on the Google Play store in a certain small country for a week or so,” The Information revealed. The company then instructed users to click on a web link to download and update Facebook outside the Google Play store. The experiment had complications, but people stayed, according to an unnamed source who took part in the test.
All experiments took place several years ago and the purpose for each of the crash “was to see at what threshold would a person ditch the Facebook app altogether,” the report says. The good news was that users proved their loyalty to the social media giant. “People never stopped coming back. Even if the native app continued to not work, the users would open Facebook on their phones’ mobile browser,” the Information highlighted.
Facebook had at least a million reasons to fear the inevitability of being dropped from the Google Play Store. In 2013, when it announced its Android beta-testing program, 1 million daily active users signed up even if it was just for beta-testing. It also announced alpha-testing. Curiously though, Facebook warned at this time that during alpha-testing, features will come and go, crashes will be introduced and designs may change.