Facebook blamed for writers losing jobs due to inflated video-view metrics

However, the group of advertisers suing Facebook now claim that the company knew since January 2015 that it was over-reporting the figures, reported Bloomberg. The average viewership metrics were not inflated by only 60-80 percent; they were inflated by some 150-900 percent.

Facebook hid a flaw in its video-advertising metrics that overestimated viewer engagement for more than a year in an effort to entice and keep advertisers on its platform, according to a lawsuit filed by a group of advertisers. In it, the plaintiffs say that, as part of the discovery from their lawsuit, they have learned that Facebook's "action rises to the level of fraud and may warrant punitive damages".

In response to the lawsuit, a Facebook spokeswoman said, "This lawsuit is without merit and we've filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud".

The filing cited roughly 80,000 pages of internal Facebook documents, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the allegations.

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"We told our customers about the error when we discovered it - and updated our help centre to explain the issue", it said in a statement. The report set off a stream of other metric miscalculations reported by Facebook and changes to how metrics were handled at the social-media company.

The error affected a Facebook metric called "average duration of video viewed", which was supposed to tell publishers for how long, on average, people had watched a video. Facebook also set up a measurement council and began working with the Media Ratings Council to complete an audit of its metrics. "Yet Facebook did nothing to stop its dissemination of false metrics", the marketers allege in the amended complaint, filed with U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland. "Facebook engineers knew for over a year". In reality, the company only included those who had viewed a video for three seconds or more when calculating this metric, leaving out everyone who clicked away before three seconds.

Discounting the shorter views - including people who had ignored a video in their news feed - inflated the average viewing times for each video.

In the filing, brought before the USA district court in Oakland the claimants write: "If Facebook had immediately corrected its miscalculation in a straightforward manner, advertisers would have seen a sudden and precipitous drop in their viewership metrics".

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