Time to Break Up Facebook, Part MMMMCLXIV

Facebook and Google’s hegemony in the online ad world has reached its inevitable result, it has been revealed that Facebook has been aggressively defrauding advertisers over the effectiveness of its video ads.

If I had a chance to say anything to Mark Zuckerberg about this, it would be, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed.

According to a newly public filing in an ongoing lawsuit, a group of advertisers now says that Facebook has been willfully withholding information about how much time its users spend watching paid ads—if more people spend more time watching ads, then those ads can command higher rates.

The case of LLE One LLC et al. v. Facebook, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal, was filed two years ago and is currently pending in federal court in Oakland, California. 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.”

As the plaintiffs’ attorneys continued:

In addition to Facebook knowing about the problem far longer than previously acknowledged, Facebook’s records also show that the impact of its miscalculation was much more severe than reported. The average viewership metrics were not inflated by only 60-80 percent; they were inflated by some 150-900 percent.

There are no good metrics because there are no independent metrics, and there won’t be, because Facebook so dominates the space that they can, and do, refuse to provide their underlying numbers to independent verification.

The market no longer serves as a corrective, and the alternatives are either aggressive and pervasive regulation, or broken up to its component parts, or (my choice) both.

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