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Facebook's Inflated Video Numbers Look Scary

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 19, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In nature and in lawsuits, discovery can be a dangerous thing.

In nature, it's dangerous if you discover a black widow hiding in your cupboard. In litigation, it's dangerous if a plaintiff discovers more evidence against you.

Facebook found both kinds in a case over videos playing on its platform. Plaintiffs found evidence the company was hiding viewership figures, and the numbers look scary.

Amended Complaint

Facebook inflated views by 900 percent, according to an amended complaint. Crowd Siren, an online marketing agency, alleges the defendant's "unethical, unscrupulous" behavior deceived advertisers.

The plaintiffs sued originally when Facebook admitted "overestimating" viewership metrics. The company dealt with it, but it was nothing like the latest allegations.

In court proceedings, the plaintiffs reviewed about 80,000 pages of internal Facebook records. The plaintiffs say they discovered miscalculated metrics back to 2015.

"If Facebook had immediately corrected its miscalculation in a straightforward manner, advertisers would have seen a sudden and precipitous drop in their viewership metrics," the amended complaint says. "They also would have seen that they had spent considerable money on past advertising campaigns that were not enjoying anywhere near the average viewership that Facebook had represented."

"Without Merit"

Facebook has denied the allegations, and has asked the judge to dismiss the case. The company says the claims are "without merit."

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

That was 2016, however. Facebook said at the time that it overestimated viewing by only 60 to 80 percent.

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