SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook inflated estimates about how many people would see targeted ads, but ignored the problem in order to generate more revenue, according to civil suit documents released Thursday.
The social networking giant has been facing a class-action lawsuit since 2018. Plaintiffs claim that the platform’s administrators knew that the so-called “potential access” measure was misleading, but they did not seek to remedy the situation in order not to lose revenue.
The California company derives the vast majority of its revenue from selling targeted ads. Pricing varies according to several criteria, including the number of users who are most likely to view the campaign.
In the lawsuit, the lawyers said, “Facebook has known for years that its potential reach is exaggerated and misleading.”
The lawsuit argued that Facebook made a deliberate decision not to remove duplicate or fake accounts from potential access tool metrics.
The legal documents cited an Accessibility product manager who wrote in an internal email: “These are returns we should never have had given the fact that they are based on wrong data.”
“These documents are carefully selected to fit the plaintiff’s account,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told AFP in response to an inquiry.
Osborne emphasized that the tool for “potential reach” for ad campaigns is “estimate and clarify how it is calculated.”
The internet giant claimed that the Potential Access feature is just a “free tool” for advertisers to have the option to look at and has not affected ad delivery, according to court documents.
The potential reach tool allows advertisers to set budget and other benchmarks in a software program and get an estimate of how many people they can reach on the Facebook platform.
“Facebook didn’t just ‘slow down’ in offering potential access that is inaccurate and misleading.
Facebook modified the Potential Reach tool in 2019.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case called on a federal court in San Francisco to deny Facebook’s request to dismiss the two-year-old lawsuit.