Facebook reveals it miscalculated even more metrics

Facebook metrics

Last week, Facebook revealed that it found yet more errors in metrics that it reports to brands and advertisers.

The first error affected metrics related to Like and Share buttons. The Like and Share counts retrieved through Facebook’s Graph API were inconsistent with the counts displayed through search queries in Facebook’s mobile app.

According to a Facebook blog post, the cause of the discrepancy has not yet been determined. “We are looking into why inputting the URL as a search query in Facebook’s mobile app might have corresponding numbers that can be higher or lower in certain cases,” the company stated.

The second error affected the like and reaction emoji counts Facebook displays to Page owners for Facebook Live broadcasts. Facebook explained:

We misallocated the extra reactions per user that happened during the live broadcast to the “Reactions from Shares of Post” section, instead of counting them in the “Reactions on Post” section, so we’re making a change to correct it. Note that total counts were and are correct; some of them were just captured in the wrong reporting column when broken out.

Facebook says that its fix for the glitch will be in place starting in mid-December, and that Page owners can expect to see Reactions on Post increase by 500% and see Reactions from Shares of Post decrease by 25%.

Just how bad will it get?

Facebook’s revelation of new metric miscalculations is the third in recent months. The latest issues are not nearly as ugly as those previously reported, which included an error that caused a video viewership metric to be vastly overstated, but even so, the fact that Facebook continues to find discrepancies in more and more of the metrics it shares with brands and advertisers probably won’t inspire confidence.

Some in the industry don’t believe that Facebook’s miscalculations are as big a deal as they have been made out to be, and brands and agencies continue to pour more and more money into the Facebook ecosystem.

But the metrics miscalculations have forced Facebook to issue strongly-worded apologies and increased calls for Facebook to allow third-party tagging and verification. As ad agency Publicis told clients in a note following the announcement of Facebook’s first metrics faux pas, “This once again illuminates the absolute need to have 3rd party tagging and verification on Facebook’s platform. Two years of reporting inflated performance numbers is unacceptable.”

The latest faux pas, however modest in the overall scheme of things, will likely only encourage brands and advertisers to increase their calls for independent verification.

Related reading