Facebook shareholders join call to boot Mark Zuckerberg out following the social media platform’s recent falsified video viewership figures scandal.
The pressure piles on to replace Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman of the social media and networking service Facebook – with shareholders publicly making their displeasure know and looking to instate an independent chairman at Facebook with the aims of making the company more accountable for its actions.
The ongoing shareholder campaign to remove Zuckerberg recently received the backing of three state treasurers and a top New York official.
In September 2016 Facebook admitted to inflating viewing figures by including views lasting a few seconds. Facebook utilised their ‘auto-play’ video feature, automatically enabled for all users with an opt-out hidden in the account settings.
"A lot of friends lost their jobs over this bullshit" https://t.co/gNqfxXswrx
— WIRED (@WIRED) October 18, 2018
The auto-play feature allowed Facebook to deceive ad-buying agencies by logging someone flicking casually through the Facebook page on their phone with the feature automatically enabled, and if the video loaded and played for more than a few seconds a full view would be counted by Facebook’s own metric.
How many journalists were fired because their companies went with a "video strategy" influenced strongly by Facebook's claimed video revenues and Facebook's direct influence on media partners to push video? https://t.co/CIjMwtYNJu
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) October 17, 2018
The lenient parameters set by Facebook to account for a full video viewing, paired with the auto-play feature meant Facebook provided heavily inflated average viewership figures – with the accusers citing inflation metrics running from 150-900%, a significant jump from the 60-80% admitted inflation error.
The lawsuit levelled against the world’s largest social network has updated claims that Facebook knew as early as 2015 that the figures being reported to partners and advertisers were inflated, and made no effort to correct the figures.
Facebook alleged that part of their Facebook Analytics listed as ‘Average Duration of Video Viewed’ was “Total time spent watching a video divided by the total number of people who have played the video”, but was calculated as “Total time spent watching a video divided by the number of people who have viewed a video for three or more seconds.”
Yet more allegations regarding Facebook's opaque advertising system. Regulators such as the CMA should consider investigating the operation of the advertising market on social media platforms such as Facebook https://t.co/lYHad6MlOZ
— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) October 18, 2018
Damian Collins, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee, called for an investigation from the UK’s competition watchdog hours after the claims were published. Mr Collins, who led the parliamentary inquiry into fake news last year, told the Daily Telegraph that the investigation in America gives cause for concern as advertisers rely on the data given by Facebook to target users that may not even exist: “If the number of fake accounts is much larger than they say, yet they are selling them as average users accounts, then they are misleading advertisers.”
Facebook have stated the claims are without merit and has filed a motion to dismiss the legal action – a spokesman for Facebook addressed Wall Street Journal about the errors found in their Data Analytics: “We told our customers about the error when we discovered it – and updated our help center to explain the issue.”
Words: Jeremy Ainsworth | Subbing: Ngoc Minh Thu Le