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Facebook Fined For Artificially Inflating Video Views

They lied about views by 150 to 900%. They caused media companies to go bankrupt, jobs were lost, and yet Facebook gets away with a slap on the wrist and no acknowledgement of how they messed up.
Facebook Fined For Artificially Inflating Video Views
Image from: Christoph Scholz

It's hard to properly express my loathing of Facebook.

An app that began as a demeaning "Hot/NotHot" evaluation of Harvard co-eds has become ubiquitous in our lives, with precious little oversight or sense of civic responsibility. While some justify staying on to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends, Facebook has been shown to have a lot of really negative societal effects, from mental health damage to fake news to actually impacting world elections.

Other internet sites (including this one) have felt the pressure to use Facebook to drive traffic. Content providers have been pressured to put their videos on Facebook directly, with the promise of greater exposure.

And therein lies the problem for which Facebook was fined this week. The Hollywood Reporter:

The suit accused Facebook of acknowledging miscalculations in metrics upon press reports, but still not taking responsibility for the breadth of the problem. "The average viewership metrics were not inflated by only 60%-80%; they were inflated by some 150 to 900%," stated an amended complaint.

Faced with claims of violating unfair competition law, breaching contract and committing fraud, Facebook contested advertisers' injuries, questioning whether they really relied on these metrics in deciding to purchase ad time. In early rounds in the litigation, Facebook was successful in getting the judge to pare the claims, though until a settlement was announced, several of the claims including fraud were still live. Even after agreeing to pay $40 million for settlement, Facebook maintains the suit is "without merit."

Let's be clear, $40 million dollars sounds like a lot of money, but it's really only about 0.18% of their annual income. A drop in the bucket. And again, they'll shell out that money without acknowledging any responsibility or culpability, the primary characteristic of Mark Zuckerberg. And this flat out fraud has hurt other companies, some of them to the ground.

Comedian Adam Conover {"Adam Ruins Everything") explains:

This is why Elizabeth Warren has been going so hard against Facebook. And they deserve it.

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias of Vox had some thoughts:

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