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Facebook apologises for misleading advertisers

Facebook fed inaccurate information to local advertisers for more than a year and is being forced to repay them, casting further doubt over the accuracy of the way the US tech platform collects data.

The tech giant, which has been criticised several times in the last few years over the reliability of its data, is giving free “credits” to multiple local advertisers after it realised it was miscalculating metrics such as the amount of people clicking on an ad on Facebook’s app or how much users prefer one advertiser over another.

Facebook informed advertisers last week it had miscalculated data.

Facebook informed advertisers last week it had miscalculated data.Credit:AP

Industry sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Facebook had apologised to some advertisers and media buying agencies in Australia. The advertisers are being offered one-off make-goods – the opportunity to advertise for free – if they were significantly affected. A Facebook spokeswoman claimed it had affected 0.1 per cent of the local advertising market, but multiple industry sources said that a number of companies across large advertising agencies were affected. The scale of impact is dependent on what the tool was used for.

The inaccurate data was provided to advertisers through a free “conversion lift tool”. The tool helps users understand the effectiveness of their advertisements and some may adjust spend based on the data provided. The global tech giant told affected advertisers the metric was undercounted between August 15, 2019 and August 31, 2020, citing a code error for the mistake.

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