Facebook allegedly lied to advertisers for longer than a year

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg Credit Marlene Awaad Bloomberg

In the latest version of the complaint filed Tuesday, those claims were unredacted. Instead, the company engaged in a public relations campaign to deflect attention to the errors, Crowd Siren said, citing internal company documents and email exchanges. "We told our customers about the error when we discovered it - and updated our help center to explain the issue", a company spokeswoman told the Journal.

In 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook had "vastly overestimated average viewing time for video ads on its platform for two years" by as much as "60 to 80pc". This set off several other miscalculations handed by the company leading to a lawsuit.

In light of the company's year of disastrous PR, confined but not limited to a security breach compromising millions of accounts, invasive advertising techniques, and a data-mining scandal so egregious it prompted a Senate investigation - not to mention misinformation on its platform prompting genocide overseas - Facebook's new admission is hardly shocking. However, the company never bothered to make corrections in order to retain their goodwill.

Facebook, world's largest social network, has been accused of misleading brands by not telling them for more than a year that it exaggerated the amount of time people spent watching videos on the platform. This is a relatively standard calculation, however it had one caveat - it omitted shorter views by only counting those that had watched 3 seconds or more, grossly inflating the final average view time.

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According to a report in ReCode, Facebook that last week said that no data will be collected through Portal and shared for targeted advertising has now taken a U-turn.

According to the complaint, if Facebook had immediately straightforwardly corrected the errors, advertisers would have seen a steep and sudden drop in their viewership stats. It added that marketers and advertisers "would be less likely to continue buying video advertising from Facebook". They claim that Facebook covered up the mistake the whole time. Many sites infamously made the decision to pivot to video around 2015 to 2016, laying off writers and scaling back written content. Facebook is defending the misrepresentation charges saying the lawsuit is "without merit".

The two sides will appear before US District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland on December 14, 2018 at 9am.

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