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True Genius: How to go from “the future of journalism” to a fire sale in a few short years
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Oct. 8, 2019, 10:37 a.m.
Audience & Social

Last year a group of small advertisers in California sued Facebook, claiming that it massively overestimated video ad viewing time (by as much as 900 percent) and failed to disclose the miscalculation once people inside the company had discovered it. During this period, company executives were also heavily promoting video at news industry events — contributing, as I argued last year, to publishers making disastrous “pivots to video” (soon followed by accompanying editorial layoffs) because they believed Facebook’s data was better than their own and that it showed a huge audience for news video waiting to be monetized.

That advertiser lawsuit has now been settled: The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday that Facebook agreed to pay the advertisers $40 million, though the company maintains it did nothing wrong.

Twitter, on the other hand, is, uh, less convinced of Facebook’s innocence in the matter — and many pointed out that while the advertisers are getting a (small, in Facebook terms) settlement, the journalists laid off in all that video-pivoting are getting nothing.

Separately, Facebook announced Tuesday that it’s giving $300,000 to European news publishers to help them experiment with video.

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