According to a new report out of The Information, Facebook has been putting a variety of contingencies in place behind the scenes to ensure that should it ever feel the need to pull out of the Play Store, it could survive. The report details a variety of practices Facebook has engaged in recently to attempt and reduce its reliance on Google, the Play Store, and built-in Android features.
For instance, Facebook has at some points developed in-app artificial errors that would crash its Android app for users for weeks at a time. Facebook did this, the report claims, to see just how addicted users are to its service. The results? Facebook reportedly never saw an instance in which users stopped trying to access the app. While the app was crashing, users would often turn to the mobile web version of Facebook to get their fix.
Another thing Facebook has done is offer users a way to download the app from its website as opposed to the Play Store. In some countries, Facebook has removed the app from the Play Store all together and shared a link at which users could download the app instead.
With these strategies, Facebook is essentially testing the waters to see just how independent it can make itself. The company doesn’t want to rely too heavily on Google for the success of its app on Android. For instance, there have been times when Google has threatened to remove the Facebook app from the Play Store for the company’s violations of rules. At one point, Google threatened to remove Facebook from the Play Store for its practice of spawning new apps from within the central Facebook app without the app having been downloaded from the Play Store.
Should Google and Facebook ever have a falling out severe enough for the social network’s app to get pulled from the Play Store, Facebook wants to have measures in place to ensure that its service doesn’t crash and burn. Whether or not that will ever happen remains to be seen.