Facebook Killed News

Seriously. Facebook killed news.

Facebook acknowledged in 2016 that it had been overstating to advertisers the average time users spent watching videos on the platform. But when exactly Facebook found out about that error—and how long the company kept it under wraps—is now the subject of a federal district court lawsuit in California. The suit, filed earlier this week, was brought by Facebook advertisers who allege that Facebook knew about the measurement error for more than a year before it was first reported publicly in The Wall Street Journal.

The current suit stems from an earlier, more narrow lawsuit filed in 2016, after Facebook admitted its error. The issue, which Facebook has since addressed, involved Facebook’s calculations for the average length of time a video was being viewed. Instead of dividing the total watch time by every user who played a given video, Facebook only factored in users who watched for more than three seconds. That yielded watch times that, the Journal reported at the time, were 60 to 80 percent higher than reality.

It was also around that time that many newsrooms across the country began laying off reporters, in what has become known as the “pivot to video.” Long story short, news rooms began to heavily invest in video, hiring tons of producers and content creators at the expense of firing journalists.

Why Its Hot

Would this have happened without Facebook’s ridiculously inflated video stats? Maybe. People do watch a ton of video on online even without Facebook. But when your business relies on advertising, and your ads are performing at the levels Facebook was reporting, you’ll probably think twice about who you’re hiring.