Facebook sued for inflating video stats for advertisers

"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".

The lawsuit refers back to a disclosure Facebook made in 2016, when it admitted that it inadvertently had been overstating some video viewing metrics. However, the lawsuit claims that the average view times were inflated up to 900 percent.

The skewed metrics did not relate to paid advertisements, but they could have misled brands into thinking that Facebook (fb) was a livelier video platform than it actually was, and some small advertisers sued the platform following its admission. The company has said its mistaken calculations did not affect billing.

Now, those claimants have filed an amended complaint. At the time, large swaths of the complaint were blacked out, including the information forming the basis of the fraud allegations.

"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 social network revealed in September 2016 that it artificially inflated the metric for two years because it only counted videos as viewed if they had been watched for three or more seconds - failing to taking shorter views into account - and possibly misleading advertisers. The complaint also alleges that Facebook's errors were more significant than reported in 2016. "The persistence of Facebook's false metrics was possible only because Facebook did not take verification of its metrics seriously, severely understaffed the engineering team in charge of fixing errors, did not fully investigate or correct errors that were reported to it, and refused to allow third-party verification of its metrics". "This lawsuit is without merit and we've filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud", a spokesperson told Variety. Videos viewed for less than three seconds, or not viewed at all, were not included in the metrics. "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.

The plaintiffs also said the inflation of the metrics ran to 150-900%, not 60-80%. Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false. 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.

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