This is a daily opinion column written by Lowell Heddings, the founder of How-To Geek, featuring his take on the latest in the world of technology.
I’ve always told people that you can increase your battery life dramatically by disabling Facebook’s background refresh — but it turns out, Facebook has found some sneaky way around this, and it’s doing stuff in the background even when you have background refresh disabled.
Note that this piece is all about iOS devices since that’s what I use, but Facebook makes Android batteries die too. I’m sure you’ll find solutions in the comments section for Android devices.
Every time I take a look at a friend’s iPhone, Facebook is the app with the highest amount of battery usage in the background – even with Background App Refresh turned off. This has been going on for years, and instead of fixing the issue, it does seem like Facebook is always coming up with new ways to circumvent user control and consume more energy.
The fact that a company the size of Facebook can’t optimize energy consumption of their iOS app is simply ridiculous. If they can but don’t want to (because of processes they want to run in the background, constant notifications, etc.) – well, that’s even worse.
My solution has been the same for the past couple of years: never install the Facebook app, and always access Facebook from Safari.
On all of my devices, the first thing I do after setting them up is go to Settings -> General -> Background App Refresh and disable everything that doesn’t need to be updated in the background — which is almost everything.
But lately I’ve noticed, and many other people have noticed, that Facebook seems to have some way around this. Some of the theories are that Facebook is collecting your location information — but on my devices, I have disabled location access from Facebook entirely. The other theory is that Facebook’s auto-playing videos are acting as background audio and keeping the application open in the background. But my wife religiously closes the Facebook app all the time, and her iPhone shows huge background usage. On my iPad, which is where the screenshot is from, I rarely ever use Facebook, so the usage is still pretty low. But it’s not low enough.
Facebook is supposedly working on a fix, according to a statement provided to TechCrunch:
We have heard reports of some people experiencing battery issues with our iOS app. We’re looking into this and hope to have a fix in place soon.
Can You Do Anything to Fix It?
The fact of the matter is Facebook is just a huge battery drain. You should definitely turn off location access (Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> Facebook -> Never) and disable background app refresh (Settings -> General -> Background App Refresh). But that will only do so much.
It’s probably better to get rid of the app, and save a Facebook bookmark to your home screen so you can access it in a browser instead. Or just get rid of Facebook entirely, if you can.