Facebook strives for transparency with metrics fixes

The social network has been slammed for inflating marketers’ video views and for not stemming the spread of fake news. Will this move help turn the tide?

Facebook is fighting to regain the trust of its users and marketers-and is hoping that tweaking its analytics can help.

The social network recently announced in a blog post that it would be fixing problems with advertising metrics, including those related to Facebook ad reach, live-streaming video and “Like” and “Share” buttons.

The first change comes in giving marketers a more accurate estimate of the number of users they could reach through Facebook ads.

Facebook wrote:

We’re improving our methodology for sampling and extrapolating potential audience sizes. This will help to provide a more accurate estimate for a given target audience and to better account for audiences across multiple platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network). In most cases, advertisers should expect to see less than a 10% change (increase or decrease) in the audience sizes shown in the tool.

Facebook said it also “misallocated the extra reactions per user that happened during the live broadcast to the ‘Reactions from Shares of Post section'” used during Facebook Live sections.

The company explained:

The fix for this issue will apply to newly created Live videos, starting mid-December. It will increase “Reactions on Post” by 500% on average and will decrease them on “Reactions from Shares of Post” by 25% on average (actual impact to specific videos may vary).

Facebook also revealed discrepancies between what its “Share” and “Like” buttons count for specific Facebook posts (including a link shared on the platform) and what shows up when users search for that URL or post on a mobile device.

The announcement follows a larger admission that the platform offered in September, when it revealed that marketers were receiving inflated metrics for video ads.

“Facebook has kept its promise to be more transparent after it discovered that its system has been embellishing video views and ad data,” Engadget reported.

The most recent change to analytics could also affect Facebook’s effort to combat fake news.

Business Insider reported:

Neither of the errors Facebook revealed on Friday is as important for advertisers as the previously misreported numbers for video views and other products like Instant Articles.

But the discrepancy of the numbers of likes and shares for web links could affect the accuracy of recent and widely cited investigations by BuzzFeed and The New York Times into how fake news stories are shared on Facebook, according to Marketing Land’s Tim Peterson. Both investigations relied on Facebook’s data on likes and shares to show how fakes news stories can easily go viral on the social network.

Whether it comes as tweaking analytics or providing more tools to users, it will become increasingly important for the Facebook to act rather than simply to denounce the spreading of false articles.

Politico reported:

Facebook has come under withering criticism for allowing the dissemination of egregiously fake stories during the campaign, with widely shared headlines falsely reporting that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump’s candidacy and that an FBI agent involved in the Hillary Clinton email investigation was dead in a murder-suicide. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, after first scoffing that fake news helped swing the election to Trump, has pledged to “take misinformation seriously,” though he gave no timeline for action and warned about the dangers of his company becoming an arbiter of the truth.

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