Pivot to the Truth? Facebook Lied About Video Stats, Advertisers Say

Lloyd Doyle
October 18, 2018

"We told our customers about the error when we discovered it-and updated our help center to explain the issue", a spokeswoman said.

At the core of the dispute are Facebook's methods to calculate video viewing time. The plaintiffs alleged in Tuesday's complaint that the error was much larger and that the average viewership metrics had been inflated by some 150% to 900%. The company has said its mistaken calculations did not affect billing. A group of advertisers brought a lawsuit against the social media firm in 2016 for failing to disclose the error earlier, accusing Facebook of engaging in unfair business practices by publishing inaccurate metrics that overestimated how long users spent watching ads and ultimately misled advertisers.

Meanwhile, the filing further claims that the problem was more severe than previously reported.

Facebook has been accused of misleading brands by not telling them for more than a year that it was overestimating the amount of time people spent watching videos on the platform.

Facebook is being sued by a group of marketers for allegedly sitting on inflated video-view metrics for more than a year and misleading advertisers.


Citing 80,000 pages of internal Facebook documents obtained during court proceedings, the plaintiffs claim the company had already received several inquiries about suspect video metrics by July 2015 and soon determined the cause, but did not follow up on those inquiries for a full year. They finally replaced that model with an "average watch time" metric that included shorter view times in 2016.

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. The lawsuit includes fraud claims against Facebook and requests punitive damages.

An October 5, 2018 filing by one of Facebook's attorneys, Michelle Ybarra, reiterated the company's argument that the case should be dismissed as the advertisers did not adequately demonstrate that they "actually relied on the metrics at issue". The now-filed lawsuit alleges that this allowed the company to inflate average watch metrics by up to 900%.

"Facebook either knew that the average viewership metrics it was reporting. was false or reported those metrics recklessly and without regard for their truth", the complaint alleges. It countered: "Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false", the company said in a statement.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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