Facebook app was intentionally broken but users still kept visiting social network, report claims

The test was a way of preparing for a world where Google cut Facebook off from putting its app on Android phones, it is claimed 

Facebook completely broke its app to test whether people would continue to use it, a new report claims.

The company provided a non-functioning version of its Android app to try and see whether people would keep using it. They did keep returning to the network even when it was broken, according to The Information, which first reported the test.

Facebook ran the experiment as a way of testing people’s loyalty to Facebook, according to the tech news site. The test is part of its contingency plans in case Facebook ever has problems having its app distributed through the Google Play Store, according to reports.

As such, the company wanted to know whether — in that case — people would start moving away from Facebook. So it broke the app and made people instead access the site through its mobile website, which tends to load more slowly and have fewer features.

The company hoped to find out how broken the app would need to be for people to stop using it, according to the report. But it never got bad enough.

"People never stopped coming back," one person close to the experiment told The Information.

The test was only run once and happened some time ago. But Facebook is still working to make sure that it is safe in the case of a breakdown with Google Play, according to reports.

Some have compared the testing to the experiment that ran in 2014, when the site put its users under psychological testing without telling them. The site changed the news feed algorithm so that the stories that showed up for people were especially positive or negative — and then monitored for the effect that seemed to have on people’s emotional responses.

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