You know what would be annoying? If the source of our societal downfall was a bunch of lies and cheap tricks.
In 2016, a law suit was brought against Facebook to combat their over-inflation of video ad view statistics
. This week, it was made public, and we got to learn that for as long as a year or more, the engineers running their video ads products had seen viewer statistics over-inflated. Facebook claimed their metrics were some 60-80% higher than they really were, due to a genuine computing error and no sincere attempt to deceive. I'm sure that makes the ad-buying teams of Facebook's biggest customer brands feel better.
As it turns out, the statistics were in fact 150-900% over-inflated, and it's making me ask questions. Is the cannibalistic nature of a technology-to-user-power-ratio that monetizes ads even remotely sustainable if an oversight of this sort doesn't or can't change advertiser spending patterns?
During this scandal, in some board room somewhere, an advertising team looked at a bunch of figures from Facebook about their video ad views, and said "ok, sure, sounds right, how would I even try and double-check these" and paid them money to run ads.
Did they get an ROI on that investment? Was it measurable and worthwhile at the viewership rates Facebook first released? How about at minus the 150-900% it was actually inflated by? How can there be a measurable ROI on advertising at all if the difference doesn't matter? And if the difference does matter, how can we trust platforms that publish their own figures after this kind of deception?
As this story became public, WhatsApp has been causing the Indian government to shut down regional Internet hubs to combat riot-inducing fake news, and we're finding out all about what the trolls are doing to Twitter.
Maybe the attention economy is imploding a little bit?
Yours in HAT,