Briefing

Facebook executives knew about inflated ad metrics for years, lawsuit claims

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Facebook told advertisers it could reach more 18- to 34-year-olds in every U.S. state than who actually lived in those states, according to the class-action suit. Facebook said the allegations were “without merit,” and that it intends to defend itself. (Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: COO Sheryl Sandberg and CFO David Wehner are named in new documents released as part of the case, although their specific involvement has been redacted for reasons of commercial sensitivity. Other internal Facebook communications that have been disclosed highlight concerns that the numbers would be a problem: “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen,” one employee wrote to colleagues in October 2018. Another likened what Facebook was doing to a 2016 incident where the company revealed it had inflated viewing times for video advertisements. In that case, advertisers sued, and Facebook reached a proposed settlement in October 2019.