Facebook accused of fabricating video view metrics for years

A potential class action lawsuit claims Facebook knowingly gave advertisers inaccurate viewership video metrics to trick them into buying video ads.

Facebook did reveal back in 2016 that it inflated its video metrics for two years because it was only counting videos viewed for at least three seconds. This was misleading for advertisers because the metrics failed to include shorter views. Soon after, Facebook said it fixed the metrics’ calculations.

Did Facebook actually fix its video metric reports?

However, online marketing agency Crowd Siren claims Facebook didn’t correct the metrics and knowingly gave them to their advertisers to mislead them. Additionally, the agency claims Facebook’s been over-reporting its figures since 2015, according to Bloomberg. Crowd Siren additionally  It’s estimated that Facebook inflated its metrics by anywhere between 150 to 900 percent. The agency backs all its claims with company documents and email exchanges from internal sources.

Also, the agency is suing Facebook for inflating its metrics as well as fraud and punitive damages. It filed a class action lawsuit this Tuesday stating: “Facebook’s internal efforts behind the scenes reflect a company mentality of reckless indifference toward the accuracy of its metrics.”

Facebook denies all allegations

Facebook fired back at Crowd Siren’s lawsuit, holding that all of the agency’s allegations are false.

“This lawsuit is without merit and we’ve filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud. Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We told our customers about the error when we discovered it — and updated our help center to explain the issue.”

Why would Facebook lie to its advertisers?

It’s been clear Facebook wants to beef its video community up — hoping to soon go toe-to-toe with the likes of YouTube and Twitch. We don’t know if any of these allegations are true, but we do know that there’s believable motives behind them. Advertisers would surely be excited if they saw Facebook’s video metrics after a 150 to 900 percent boost. They’d be encouraged and invest into video ads on Facebook.

For Facebook to compete with platforms like YouTube, it needs content creators and advertisers. Facebook knows this, and if these allegations are true, it’s evident they’d do anything to attract them — even commit fraud. And that isn’t going to be attracting any creators away from YouTube.

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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