Remember when one news organization after another fired people en masse to PIVOT TO VIDEO, even though who the hell wants to consume their news through online video rather than reading it? The intuition that this made no sense was, in fact, correct — Facebook just used bad data to massively inflate video viewership and then lied about it:
Facebook Inc. knew of problems in how it measured viewership of video ads on its platform for more than a year before it disclosed them in 2016, according to a complaint filed Tuesday by advertisers.
A group of small advertisers filed a lawsuit in California federal court in 2016, alleging the tech giant engaged in unfair business conduct by disseminating inaccurate metrics that significantly overestimated the amount of time users were spending watching video ads.
The plaintiffs later added a fraud claim, and in Tuesday’s court filing they alleged Facebook knew of irregularities in its video metrics by January 2015 and understood the nature of the miscalculation within a few months, but failed to disclose the information for over a year.
The filing followed the plaintiffs’ review of some 80,000 pages of internal Facebook records that they obtained as part of court proceedings.
The complaint, which cites the internal Facebook documents, also alleges that the scale of the miscalculation was far worse than understood.
“Facebook’s internal efforts behind the scenes reflect a company mentality of reckless indifference toward the accuracy of its metrics,” the plaintiffs said in Tuesday’s filing.
And this didn’t just lead to one round of big layoffs, but two:
If you missed it: today it was confirmed that Facebook massively & knowingly inflated its video-view statistics, which had the DIRECT consequence of 90% of media orgs firing writers in favor of expensive video producers, who also got fired when it turned out video was worthless https://t.co/WqdAUBIe6L
— Chris Conroy (@dyfl) October 17, 2018
I dunno, I really don’t think that the “Zuckerberg for Prez” campaign is going anywhere.
And, of course, the bad faith isn’t just on one end here. It’s always easier to get media execs to believe lies that can serve as a pretext for firing subordinates:
It’s baffling how many execs successfully position themselves as media gurus based on nothing but attending fancy conferences all year but have zero understanding of how the business actually works. And they keep getting jobs! It’s infuriating.
— Barry Petchesky (@barry) October 17, 2018