Lawsuit Alleges Facebook Inflated Video View Statistics to Fool Advertisers

Mark Zuckerberg

In the latest version of the complaint filed Tuesday, those claims were unredacted. The company said that the issue had no impact on billing and all partners have been notified about the situation through their product dashboards. "We told our customers about the error when we discovered it-and updated our help center to explain the issue", a spokeswoman said.

A group of advertisers filed a lawsuit in Federal court in California, accusing the social network Facebook in providing false information about the video views. This set off several other miscalculations handed by the company leading to a lawsuit. In 2016, when Facebook did disclose the error to its advertisers, it claimed that "it recently had discovered the issue", though the litigation claims that the tech giant knew of it since a year. However, the company never bothered to make corrections in order to retain their goodwill.

Online marketing agency Crowd Siren is suing Facebook over alleged misrepresentations of key video metrics, saying it had misled advertisers about the average time users spent online watching video clips. If advertisers were more widely aware of this fact, and in particular, if they knew that their advertisements were among those that were not drawing viewers' attention, they would be less likely to continue buying video advertising from Facebook.

In that time, Facebook kept to a "no PR" strategy, quietly replacing and renaming statistics.

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The complaint said: "If Facebook had immediately corrected its miscalculation in a straightforward manner, advertisers would have seen a sudden and precipitous drop in their viewership metrics".

Facebook asserts that the lawsuit is without merit and dismisses the fraud claim altogether. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook deliberately obscured this, because the true numbers indicated that the majority of videos were barely played, indicating that users scrolled past them and thus, lowering the value of video advertising and revenue for Facebook.

"About a month ago, we found an error in the way we calculate one of the video metrics on our dashboard-average duration of video viewed", David Fischer, a Facebook vice president, wrote. However, by discarding shorter video views, the company also arrived at higher average watch times.

In Facebook's case, the long tail of its history of begging off has grown a little longer.

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