Facebook has been caught secretly manipulating its users again — this time to see how addicted they are to its app.
News broke Tuesday that Facebook purposefully crashed its Android app for hours at a time to see how loyal its users are. And they’re very loyal.
"People never stopped coming back," one source told The Information. No matter how often Facebook crashed its app, users kept visiting the site, just by using its mobile browser version instead. The test was reportedly part of the company’s preparation for conflict with Google, which owns the Android operating system and has threatened to cut Facebook off before.
“Though it may sound like paranoia on Facebook's part, its presence on Android could be hugely limited by Google's actions,” wrote Jacob Kastrenakes on The Verge. The two Internet giants have reportedly argued before over some of Facebook’s experiments, like automatically installing their apps on users’ phones.
"People never stopped coming back."
In 2014, a controversial study was published that looked at how Facebook’s news feed affected people’s moods.
The company deliberately manipulated 700,000 feeds to show either all positive or all negative news, and then measured people’s reactions in their own updates. The experiment on “massive-scale emotional contagion” had the Internet in a tizzy and caught the eye of Canada’s privacy commissioner. Even the editor of the journal that published the study said it was concerning.
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