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Facebook accused of 'crashing' its Android app as part of user loyalty experiment

Facebook has been accused of selectively breaking its own Android app for lengthy periods of time in order to find out how loyal users are.

A report published in tech journal the Information claims that the social behemoth purposefully crashed the platform on Google's OS to calculate the limit at which users would stop trying to access the site.

An unnamed source told the publication that the experiment was conducted several years ago, and that “people never stopped coming back” – switching instead to the mobile web version of the site when they couldn't access the app.

The research follows claims that Facebook has been "secretly preparing" contingency measures to allow its apps to operate on Android phones without going through its rival's Play store should it enter an "intractable conflict" with Google.

Last summer the social network came under fire after it was found to have conducted a psychological experiment on 600,000 of its users without their consent. The test saw developers change the tone of news feeds by toying with the number of postive and negative posts, images and comments visible to selected individuals.

At the time Facebook said it had been authorised to improve its services and "to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible."

"A big part of this is understanding how people respond to different types of content, whether it's positive or negative in tone, news from friends, or information from pages they follow," a spokesperson added.