Facebook misled advertisers about video views, lawsuit claims

Facebook Artificially Inflated their Video Numbers Leading News Organizations to Fire Journalists in a Pivot to Video

They also claimed the error didn't affect billing, though with viewership metrics inflated 150 to 900 percent, it's easy to see how advertisers might have seen the inflated numbers as incentive to buy more ads.

"In an internal response to one such inquiry, a Facebook engineer discussed the numerator/denominator mismatch: 'I remember [another Facebook engineer] mentioned when computing the average, we only consider views greater than three seconds, but use the total watch time (including those under three [seconds]),'" the lawsuit says.

Facebook told some advertisers that it likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by 60% to 80%.

At the core of the dispute are Facebook's methods to calculate video viewing time.

Now, those claimants have filed an amended complaint.

The complaint claims Facebook knew its metric for measuring video views was flawed as early as 2015, but didn't alert advertisers about the problem until September 2016.


"Internal records recently produced in this litigation suggest...that Facebook's action rises to the level of fraud and may warrant punitive damages", the advertisers said in a Tuesday filing. The complaint also alleges that Facebook's errors were more significant than reported in 2016.

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

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".

A lawsuit has been filed against Facebook in California federal court for misleading advertisers and brands by lying about the average time users spent viewing online videos on its platform. The now-filed lawsuit alleges that this allowed the company to inflate average watch metrics by up to 900%. The engineer wrote that there "was no progress on the task for a year", and continued to report the metric for several months while using a "no PR strategy" that avoided drawing attention to the error, according to the suit.

According to a newly public filing in an ongoing lawsuit, a group of advertisers now says that Facebook has been willfully withholding information about how much time its users spend watching paid ads-if more people spend more time watching ads, then those ads can command higher rates.

"Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false", a Facebook spokeswoman reportedly said.

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