Users saw a bogus error notification during the testing period that happened "several years ago," according to a report from The Information, and then caused the app to stop working for hours at a time. The social media network worked to find out at what point clients would abandon the app altogether — but never did.
When the app crashed, users kept coming back and proceeded to Facebook's mobile website, according to the tech publication.
The experiment stems from the social media site's intentions to separate itself from Google Play, after issues between the companies.
For a week or so in some areas, the app was no longer available in the app store. Instead, Facebook instructed users to download an updated version through a web link.
"People did it; it was disastrous," a source briefed on the tests told The Information.
Because the social network company uses Google Maps to track its events and locations, a source told The Information that Facebook is prepared to swap out Google services and use Nokia's HERE Maps instead, should there be further tension between companies.
Facebook did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.
Read the full report from The Information (subscription needed).