If you think Facebook’s mishaps ended with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, you’re dead wrong.
Months after the scandal erupted, the social media giant was in the hot seat again for knowingly inflating its video metrics for more than a year, according to a lawsuit. The complaint stated that the average viewership metrics were inflated by as much as 900%.
According to The Atlantic, Facebook defined a “view” as a user watching a video for at least three seconds. From the perspective of a retailer, “this was like counting window shoppers as customers.” In comparison, YouTube defined a “view” as 30 seconds or more of watching.
The terribly inaccurate numbers led many advertisers to put most, if not all, of their marketing resources on Facebook. These organizations believed that they were getting better engagement on the social media platform compared to other channels. As a result, countless hours of manpower and funds were wasted as advertisers chased views that were slightly longer than a blink.
Even though Facebook is set to pay $40 million to settle the lawsuit involving inflated video metrics, the damage has already been done. Independent businesses like College Humor, Funny or Die, and NZ on Air were collateral damage to Facebook’s need to dominate at all costs.
Facebook Lied Big Time to Compete With YouTube
A $40 million settlement is not even a slap on the wrist as the social media channel generated over $55 billion in advertising revenue. Mark Zuckerberg and his crew made so much money at the expense of those who paid to use their platform.
For instance, Adam Conover, a former employee of College Humor, took to Twitter to narrate how Facebook eviscerated a booming online comedy industry. In a series of tweets, the now podcaster explained how Facebook’s inflated metrics lured College Humor and Funny or Die to divert resources from other channels into the social media platform.
In the beginning of his tweetstorm, Conover provided background on how College Humor (CH) was doing well. The company was making money before Facebook made big claims.
This profitable setup would be torn apart after the company heard the news of unbelievable viewership numbers on Facebook.
As CH relied heavily on Facebook to get viewership, their site visits plummeted. Consequently, ad rates and video budgets followed suit.
That lie forced many organizations to the brink of collapse. Some even went under.
Other Businesses Suffered
It was the same case for NZ on Air. They saw their videos rack up views from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands on the social media platform. Thus, the broadcast company spent millions of dollars. They created dozens of new jobs to cater to their viewers on Facebook. They even rerouted funds from sources such as TV, radio, display, print and outdoor. Then they found out that their viewership data was a lie.
A New Yorker article about Facebook revealed that the top brass of the social media company including Zuckerberg shared a core belief that people would come around even if they criticized your calls. Let’s see if advertisers would come around and trust Facebook again after this debacle.