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Bombshell: Facebook ad sales based on systematically falsified data

A new report revealed that Facebook cheats with its advertisement reach data. This explains why advertisements booked on Facebook have much less impact than Facebook claims, essentially defrauding paying customers.

Published: September 8, 2017, 11:00 am

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    Only hours after the news surfaced, the company launched a diversion campaign, to keep the real scandal from the font pages. The diversion tactic, presented without evidence, was that a “Russian operation” promoted divisive US-related issues aimed at the US public.

    But Google has said it has found Russian tools to manipulate the US elections.

    The real scandal that Facebook is seemingly trying to cover up, is that the world’s biggest social network advertisement sales are based on systematically falsified data.

    Pivotal Research Group senior analyst Brian Wieser said a large discrepancy between US census data and the potential reach that the social network promises advertisers has been uncovered.

    On Tuesday, Wieser pointed out that Facebook’s Adverts Manager tool promised a potential reach of 41 million 18-24 year-olds in the US, while recent census data indicated that only 31 million people living in the US were within that age range.

    Similar fraudulent claims were made by Facebook regarding other countries and categories. For advertisers trying to target Facebook users in the UK, the company promised it could potentially reach 5.8 million 20-24 year-olds, 6.4 million 25-29 year-olds, and 5.2 million 30-34 year olds.

    But the last UK census from 2011, showed only had 4.3 million 20-24 year-olds, 4.3 million 25-29 year-olds, and 4.1 million 30-34 year olds.

    Sydney-based science commentator Derek Muller also accused Facebook of defrauding advertisers by targeting their paid ads at fake accounts.

    Muller told Fairfax Media the people who act on paid advertising messages were not real, but scammers who set up fictitious accounts – typically operated out of Egypt, India, and Bangladesh – to artificially inflate the popularity of Facebook pages through multiple likes.

    Facebook Australia spokeswoman Antonia Christie admitted that the social network was now cracking down on the sources of fake likes.

    One “Ahmed Ronaldo” from Cairo, for example ran a Facebook page filled with pictures from a Portuguese footballer and whose only activity has been to like more than 3000 pages.

    In May, Facebook also admitted to a miscategorisation of clicks that led to some advertisers paying more than they should, according to the business weekly Fortune. This was its tenth such mistake in a year. Fortune noted that the “discrepancies” in Facebook metrics may extend to other areas.

    Last year Facebook had to apologise for artificially inflating the average amount of time it claimed users spent watching videos on its platform.

    Facebook makes enormous profits by claiming knowlegde of users of its “free services”. They sell this information in form of advertisement space, but most of the data obtained is useless and Facebook’s claims of advertising precision, reach and impact are patently false.

    In response, Facebook blamed Russia. “Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it had found that an operation likely based in Russia spent $100 000 on thousands of US ads promoting divisive social and political messages in a two-year-period through May,” Reuters reported. The “Russian” diversion is obviously designed to take away media attention from its fraudulent ad-sales.

    Despite zero evidence in the Facebook statement of any influence, intent or effect or even a connection with anything Russian, Facebook stated: “Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.”

    But these pages were most likely un-targeted ads bought by Americans, called “Natasha” on their Facebook page. Reuters noted that Facebook declined to release the so-called “Russian” ads, indicating moreover that there is zero credibility to Facebook’s Russia allegations.

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