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Facebook Android App Users Can’t Access Articles: Facebook Experiment or Memory Hungry App?

Sun February 14 2016 7:30 am
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A few weeks ago, The Cardinal received reports that their Facebook Android app did not allow them to access articles in the their news feed from The Cardinal — Users reported that when they clicked on an article link, they were not referred to the actual article on the website. The users were only taken to a logo. Some users reported the error occurred immediately after they upgraded their Android app.

We had not made any changes prior to the reported error. After the error was reported, we tried switching from one automatic feed service to another, but users still reported the error occurred.

We contacted Facebook support and got a canned response with no specific details saying the issue was resolved — even though the issue was not resolved.

We researched the issue and learned that the tech Journal The Information was reporting that Facebook deliberately broke its app for a small number of users to see what they would do.

In the report from tech journal The Information, Facebook is accused of selectively crashing its Android app, for long periods of time, in an effort to discover the threshold at which users just give up and go away. The journal reports that Facebook researchers learned that “The company wasn’t able to reach the threshold” of driving users away. Even though the app was broken for hours, people simply used the mobile web version of Facebook using their smartphone web browser, rather than using the non-Facebook Android app.

The test only happened once, “several years ago”, but it raises suspicion that they are experimenting again. According to The Information article, the driving motivation for the experiments, was for the Facebook to develop a backup plan in case that its competition with Google (over advertising and search) expands into all-out war. Paranoia? In that event, the most powerful weapon in Google’s salvo would be to remove the Facebook app from the Google Play store, thwarting Facebook’s ability to access most of the users of the Android operation system.

Although Facebook could make its app work without the Google Play store, it would also have to develop its own replacements for many of the services provided by Google Services, including the ability to provide automatic updates and in-app purchases. Facebook declined to comment.

Google and Facebook are already fierce competitors for ad placement.

Facebook could also be motivated to hurt accessibility to smaller news websites that are outside their network as they launch their “Notify” news app. The app gathers news and entertainment stories into one news feed in the app. CNN, Fox News and the Washington Post are among the 70 news organizations providing stories to the app.

The other reason for the error could be a technical issue. Gordon Kelly of Forbes magazine Tech column is reporting the British newspaper The Guardian has discovered that Facebook and its accompanying Messenger app are seriously impacting both the battery life and performance of Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. In fact battery life on Android and iOS was found to be reduced by 20% and 15% respectively in addition to severe performance slowdowns. Gordon Kelly also wrote that he verified the massive impact uninstalling both Facebook and Messenger had on the performance gains on his Nexus 6P. Kelly reported that Facebook app consume an incredible amount of memory — more than any other app and, on Android, more than core parts of the operating system.

It’s possible that your Android app is consuming so much processing power and memory that there is not enough memory and/or processing power remaining to open the actual article inside the app. Many of these apps open a web page inside their own app. It’s also possible that the Facebook app code writers didn’t write their built-in Facebook app browser with the complete compatibility that is available in stand-alone mobile web browsers.

For users frustrated by the accessibility error, there might be a solution. Users can add any favorite website (e.g., or to their Android Home Screen. Then when you see a post that interests you in your Facebook app, switch to your HOME SCREEN and access or directly from the HOME SCREEN icon you created. It is best to do this using Google Chrome, not any built-in browser that come with your phone.

Here are the steps to save a website icon to your HOME SCREEN …

Launch Chrome for Android and open the website or Facebook page you want to save or pin to your home screen.

Tap the menu button and tap “Add to homescreen” (You will have the opportunity to name the icon, for example, “ArlingtonCardinal” or “Cardinal” but you can name it whatever you want).

The icon will appear on the home screen like any other app shortcut or widget, so Android users can drag it around and put it wherever they like.

The Firefox browser also works this way.

Apple iPhone and iPad User use these steps …

Even though Apple users have not reported a problem with the Facebook app and accessibility to, it still might be very helpful to keep an icon for or on your HOME SCREEN. Having a website icon on your HOME SCREEN is a very efficient way to quickly access a website that you use frequently.

Launch Safari and open the website or Facebook page you want to save to your HOME SCREEN.

Tap the SHARE button (the one with the up arrow) The SHARE button is at the bottom of the screen of iPhone and iPod Touch devices, and is on the top of the screen on iPad devices.

Tap the “add to Home Screen” (button with plus sign). You will have the opportunity to name the icon, for example, “ArlingtonCardinal” or “Cardinal” but you can name it whatever you want.

The icon will appear on your website just like an app icon.

See also …

theguardian Facebook accused of deliberately breaking some of its Android apps

The Information Facebook’s Android Contingency Planning

Forbes Facebook Is Causing Serious Android, iPhone Problems Easiest Way to Improve Your Phone’s Battery Life – Deleting Facebook App

TechCrunch Hands-On With Facebook Notify, A Push Notification News App And Twitter Alternative

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